Southampton set to unveil new centre-back....so what does it mean for Virgil van Dijk?
Southampton expect to announce the signing of Lazio central defender Wesley Hoedt imminently, but that may not mean defender Virgil van Dijk will be allowed to leave the club to complete a move to Liverpool or Chelsea.
Van Dijk handed in a transfer request earlier his month after he had agreed a deal to move to Liverpool, even though he has never been given permission by Southampton to talk to the Anfield club over a potential move.
That forceful approach resulted in Liverpool issuing a public apology to Southampton over their illegal approaches to sign Van Dijk, which appears to have ended their hopes of signing the Dutch defender.
The arrival of Van Dijk’s compatriot Hoedt at Southampton will fuel the suspicion that the club are making provisions in case a sizeable offer for their exiled defender is received, even though Saints chairman Ralph Krueger making it clear last week that his club was not interested in selling players this summer.
“Our stance remains based on our strategy from May when we spoke last,” he told the Southern Echo. “I already told you the numbers that we have transferred in and transferred out and it is time to stop that.
“Virgil is not the only player that is involved in this he is part of the whole strategy of not selling. Nobody is for sale that we don't want to sell and so he is not for sale in this window. We have said it more than once.”
Van Dijk has been training away from the Southampton first team squad in recent weeks, with his reluctance to play in pre-season matches and absence from the club’s first two games of the Premier League season adding to the animosity between all parties.
Van Dijk's management company Wasserman Media - who already have strained relations with Southampton after they negotiated the fractious departure of manager Ronald Koeman from Southampton to Everton last summer - issued a statement on Van Dijk's behalf insisting he wanted to be allowed to leave the club after he was fined by Southampton at the start of August.
Yet Independent.ie have been told by a Saints insider that they remain determined not to sell the player to Liverpool at any price in this transfer window, after what Southampton view as an ‘unprofessional and amateur approach’ to negotiations.
A sizeable offer in excess of £70m may still see Van Dijk leave in this transfer window, with Krueger stating in his interviews last week that there can be ‘no definite decision’ on the future of any player until the transfer window closes on August 31st.