• Saints boss believes high-profile exit can be a positive if the fee is used to secure transfer targets.
  • Pellegrino: "Maybe we can change one player for two or three players with this money".
  • Cedric Soares, Ryan Bertrand and Charlie Austin all ruled out of Saturday's trip to Manchester United.

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino hopes the £75m ($100.8m) sale of Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool could allow him the opportunity to bring in as many as three new signings during the January window and confirmed that the Saints will remain without a trio of key players for Saturday's (30 December) final outing of 2017 at Manchester United.

Having stood firm in their desire not to sell Van Dijk throughout the summer despite widespread interest and a transfer request that saw him banished to train alone, Southampton confirmed on Wednesday (27 December) evening that they had agreed a deal to be completed when the market re-opens for business on 1 January that will see them receive a new world-record sum for a defender.

10% of the fee is believed to be owed to reigning Scottish champions Celtic, from whom the Dutch international was originally signed for £13m back in 2015.

Questions will inevitably be asked as to why Southampton fought so hard to keep Van Dijk last summer and risked keeping an unhappy player on their books only to sell at the next available opportunity, but Pellegrino insists the deal represents good business for both parties and will be a plus for Southampton provided the money is reinvested into the playing squad.

"I think this question has to be more for our board, but from outside of the business plan I think so," he told reporters at a press conference held before the trip to Old Trafford. "The deal is done and will be positive for the club and for Virgil. You have to analyse in a positive way to try to reinvest this money in our squad to try to be stronger. This is everything.

"The decision is done, now we have to think about the future. At this level, at Southampton it is impossible now to bring in players for £80m or for £50m. But maybe for us it can mean in the future a couple of good players. Maybe we can change one player for two or three players with this money.

"This has to be the positive target for now. We have to analyse the situation that will be good personally for him and will be positive if we reinvest in our good targets for the future."

Asked if he had spoken to the board about gaining access to that significant windfall next month, Pellegrino responded: "We are talking about [it] and we are talking about the couple of targets that we've got. I would like to bring [in] a couple of players minimum and we have to work for this."

Out-of-form Southampton currently sit 14th and just two points above the relegation zone after seeing their winless league run extended to seven matches courtesy of a Harry Kane-inspired 5-2 drubbing by Tottenham Hotspur on Boxing Day, although Pellegrino remains confident that he can turn the club's fortunes around.

The Argentine confirmed that full-backs Cedric Soares (ankle) and Ryan Bertrand (hamstring) were not yet ready to return against United, while striker Charlie Austin is set to serve the second game of a three-match ban handed down for catching goalkeeper Jonas Lossl in the face during the 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town.

He also suffered a hamstring problem in the same contest that could keep him out until February.

"Charlie, Cedric and Ryan are the players who will not be involved against Man United," Pellegrino said. "Maybe Ryan is the closest to a return, I hope against Crystal Palace [on 2 January] he'd be ready to play."

Mauricio Pellegrino
Mauricio Pellegrino wants Southampton to reinvest the money received from Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk