Southampton manager Claude Puel has told Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk that he will not be allowed to leave the club in January, according to reports in the Mirror.
The centre-back’s impressive form this season has led to speculation that a number of top Premier League sides are interested in signing the defender – including the likes of Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
Whilst Van Dijk has remained tight-lipped about his immediate future, rumours have suggested that Saints would be willing to listen to offers in the region of £40m, which considering the current transfer market, is seen as a fairly reasonable price for one of the league’s best defenders.
However, with the January transfer window set to open on Sunday, it appears that the defender will not be allowed to leave in the new year after manager Claude Puel has reportedly told Van Dijk that he must stay until at least the summer.
The Frenchman has always insisted that the Dutch international is not for sale and recently said during a press conference: “Virgil is a very important player for us and he will stay here.
“It will be important with Virgil to continue his work and (help us) go up on the table. For me it’s not an idea or view with Virgil (to leave).”
As the club remain firm on Van Dijk’s future, they are also playing hard-ball with his centre-back partner, Jose Fonte.
The Portuguese is another player who has been linked with a move away from St Mary’s after being told he will not be offered an extension to his contract which expires in 18 months time.
But though Fonte is understood to be a Liverpool target, his manager has also ruled out his departure in the coming months.
Puel said about both Fonte and Van Dijk: “They will both stay (beyond January). It’s always speculation about different players.”