Southampton chairman speaks out on Virgil Van Dijk - and looks to have ended Liverpool's hopes
Southampton chairman Ralf Krueger has again insisted his club will not consider any offers for Virgil van Dijk in this transfer window, but he did offer a glimmer of hope to clubs looking to sign the Dutch defender in the final two weeks of the transfer window.
As Independent.ie have reported on numerous occasions, Southampton are determined to block Van Dijk’s attempts to complete a move to Liverpool, after the Dutch defender and his agent set up a deal without the club’s permission earlier this year.
We understand Southampton may have been more open to doing a deal for Van Dijk if the player and his advisers had handled transfer negotiations in a more professional manner, yet Kruger has now confirmed once more that the club are keen to hold on to the player who "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."
Despite those strong words, Krueger hinted there may be room for a deal to be completed if the right offer was lodged, amid rumours that Chelsea are preparing a big money bid to sign Van Dijk.
“I will tell you one thing - over the years we have spoken I don't give definite answers where there isn't a definite,” he added.
“With all the knowledge I have today and all the information I have on my plate right now my answer is we are carrying our strategy through the summer and that's it.”
None of Southampton's previous stars have gone as far as to make a public transfer request, yet Krueger believes Van Dijk can be integrated into the group - and accepted, if not forgiven, by supporters.
"Well, first of all, they have experienced it here before on multiple occasions and it hasn't been a problem," the former head coach of the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers said.
"I can go back to Morgan Schneiderlin in our first summer and I could list others, but let's not do that.
"We've had other examples of that where it was no problem, so I don't see that as a problem."