Southampton will not sell Van Dijk to 'make a statement' amid Liverpool and Chelsea interest

Dutch defender has made a public statement stating his desire to leave the club this summer.

File photo dated 14-01-2017 of Virgil van Dijk. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday August 16, 2017. Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk is "not for sale in this window", club chairman Ralph Krueger has told Press Association Sport. See PA story SOCCER Southampton. Photo credit should read Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has said Virgil van Dijk is "not for sale in this window" as keeping the defender is "the statement we need to make" at this juncture.

This summer has been dominated by big-money transfers and agitated players, with the future of Southampton's unsettled 26-year-old defender one of the more turbulent sagas.

Southampton asked the Premier League to investigate an alleged illegal approach from Liverpool in June, leading Liverpool to swiftly make a remarkable statement publicly dropping their interest in Van Dijk.


Speculation continues to link the Netherlands international with a move to Jurgen Klopp's side and Premier League champions Chelsea, with the defender last week taking matters into his own hands by handing in a transfer request.

Van Dijk has been training away from the main group as he attempts to force an exit, but Saints chairman Krueger has told Press Association Sport that the defender is not going anywhere.

"Virgil is not for sale in this window and it's not personal," the chairman said, just days after the Gao family bought an 80 per cent stake in the club.

"It's not about him, it's about an overall much, much, much bigger picture - a change of course for Southampton. The first summer I was here five players went out and six went in, not counting academy.

"Second summer three went out, seven came in, and third summer five went out, five came in. Now it is one out and two in, and this is who we want to become.

"We want to mature, we want to be a team that can profit from synergies that create a much more attractive football and a better product for the fans, and gives us a chance to get back into Europe.

"That's one player in this whole equation of 25 and it is the visible one, but for us it's the principle and it's the path and it's the statement we need to make to get to a new space as a club.

"We are very, very adamant about carrying this through. The new partnership has completely and wholly backed our strategy and plan and on September 1 people will see how serious we were and are."

It is a big statement from a club synonymous with seeing their best players leave on annual basis.

Krueger praised "strong leader" Mauricio Pellegrino for the way he has dealt with the situation, saying the Southampton manager has kept everybody focused on the job while dealing "very well" with Van Dijk as the pair continue to communicate "openly with each other".

Rather than lose a key player, plans are afoot to strengthen the group further before the end of the month and Press Association Sport understands Lazio defender Wesley Hoedt is among those targeted.

"We're definitely not done," Krueger said after Southampton signed Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina and Lech Poznan defender Jan Bednarek.

"We're looking at options but again we're not in a position to just bring in anybody. It would have to be a player that would fit and tick all the boxes of our needs, not only short-term but long-term. Football is still active, the black box is buzzing."

* Press Association