Wednesday 21 August 2019

Southampton will refuse to sell Virgil van Dijk in January - but may listen to sizeable offers for Jose Fonte

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, pictured, is not set to be sold in January
Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, pictured, is not set to be sold in January

Jeremy Wilson

Southampton intend to rebuff any January bids for centre-back Virgil van Dijk, but could sell captain Jose Fonte if a sizeable offer comes in.

Van Dijk is attracting interest from the two Manchester clubs following his commanding performances since joining Southampton from Celtic last year but, in line with their successful transfer strategy of recent seasons, Saints plan only to consider major offers in the summer if they have identified a replacement.

After signing a new six-year contract in May, Van Dijk is settled in Hampshire and there is little prospect of him pushing for a January move. He was bought for only £13 million but his valuation has since soared to around £40 million.

Fonte, who refused to sign an improved contract offer earlier in the year, was rested from Sunday’s 3-1 win against Bournemouth. Manager Claude Puel said that it was simply down to his need to rotate players, but Fonte was already disappointed to play no part in the club’s Europa League campaign following his pivotal role in Southampton’s upward journey from League One in 2010.

Fonte, who will turn 33 later this week, received the offer of a pay-rise after helping Portugal to win the European Championship but no extension to a contract that expires in 2018 amid interest from Manchester United and Everton.

Southampton offered to make him one of their top earners on around £70,000-a-week but they are not prepared to extend the time on his contract. In line with many leading clubs for players into their thirties, they would simply expect to review the situation next season.

Manchester United and Everton were interested in Fonte but whether they would now be willing to pay a transfer fee, as well as offer a longer contract, must be doubtful. It is also unclear now whether Southampton’s increased offer is even still on the table. Fonte is expected to return for Southampton against Tottenham on December 28.

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