MANAGER Russell Martin praised Southampton defender Lyanco for opening up about his mental health struggles.

The Brazilian centre-back, who spent the past season on loan at Al-Gharafa in Qatar, released a statement last month detailing his battle with anxiety and panic attacks.

He wrote: "Personally (it has been) a season full of challenges, both at the club and also in life, because of everything I've been through due to anxiety and panic attacks.

"(I am) taking medication every day to be able to do my best and I'm not afraid to talk about this or ashamed.

"I, my family and those close to me know how much I struggle with this and how much I can help someone who is going through the same thing."

Martin applauded Lyanco for speaking out and hopes his bravery can help create an environment where more players are open about their struggles.

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“Lyanco is a great guy. I really enjoyed working with him.” Martin told the Daily Echo.

“His medical issues this year have given him a level of anxiety that I feel really sorry for him that he has gone through that.

Lyanco is likely to depart Saints this summer (Image: Stuart Martin)

“For him to speak out about it and be really honest - he seems in a good place now.

“We had some communication a few weeks ago and I know that he has enjoyed it over there (in Qatar).

“It’s been a different experience. It’s great (that he spoke out.) I think the more people that are honest about it the better.

“It doesn’t surprise me with Lyanco to be honest. He is a really top, top human being. I’m glad he has spoken out about it.

"I’m glad he is in a much better place after a tough year for him. I hope he is on the beach somewhere, enjoying his break. He is a good guy.”

Lyanco reportedly rejected a permanent switch to Al-Gharafa, which would have netted Saints a £4million fee.

The former Torino man, who arrived for £7million in 2021, is said to favour a move to Europe or Brazil, with Vasco de Gama noted as long-term admirers.