Virgil van Dijk looks set to remain a Southampton player when the new season begins, after his employers ruled out a transfer during the summer.
The Holland international was expected to be the latest big-name to leave the Saints, and earlier this month it looked as though he would follow the well trodden path from St Mary’s to Anfield after he expressed a preference to join Liverpool. But the Reds were forced to end their interest amidst claims of an illegal approach, which also led to them making a public apology.
But whilst this appeared to end the possibility of a move to Merseyside, it only served to increase speculation that Chelsea and Manchester City were ready to pounce for the defender. However, following the appointment of Mauricio Pellegrino as their new head coach, Southampton executive director Les Reed insists van Dijk and other star players are not for sale.
“I can’t make it any plainer than that and that’s the way we mean to go forward,” he told Sky Sports. “We built this squad over some time and think we have a strong squad. We will fine-tune it, and there may be players that go on the basis it is the right thing for them and the club at that given time, but we don’t expect that to be wholesale and this is simply doing sound business in the window.
“We track players over years and when the new manager comes in like Mauricio Pellegrino, we take him through that process. He’d done his homework on our squad and we don’t believe we need to turn over players every year just to freshen things up. It’s not broken so there is no need to bring in players just because of fashion or to get people excited in the transfer market.”
Despite these words of reassurance, Saints fans are still likely to be nervous considering the number of key players who have left their club in recent summers. Van Dijk is rated in the region of £70million, and if such a bid was made for the 25-year-old former Celtic star and he pushed for the transfer, it is difficult to see him remaining at the club despite the insistence of Reed.