Southampton are optimistic they can retain captain Virgil van Dijk, despite intense speculation surrounding his future at St Mary's. Liverpool and Manchester City have both been linked with a move for the Netherlands international but chairman Ralph Krueger is unwilling to allow another high-profile player to leave the south coast.
The last three summer transfer window have been dominated by big-name players leaving the club, with the likes of Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Nathaniel Clyne, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana having all opted to continue their careers elsewhere. The Daily Mail have linked Van Dijk with becoming the latest player to depart in a deal that could be worth £50m (€58.7m).
Former Saints midfielder David Prutton believes Liverpool have the upper hand over their rivals with regard to negotiating a fee for Van Dijk, having previously dealt with the club in securing deals of Mane, Clyne and Lallana. But Krueger foresees no significant exits at the end of the current campaign.
"We definitely want to keep this group together" he told Talksport of Van Dijk, who missed the EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester United through injury. "We don't want to do what we did the last three summers, we'd like to move away from that and we are confident this summer will be a lot quieter in Southampton and we can keep the core of this team moving forward for a few years and that is going to be important.
"We're just out of the January transfer window and we are striving to keep this group together, and build on its age. Virgil is committed to us for a long time and we don't see anything but that in our future. We will be sitting together in a few weeks to look at our summer transfer window and what the plans are. At the moment, Virgil is very committed to us. He is our team captain and we see him in our red and white stripes."
Van Dijk signed a new six-year contract last May, keeping him at Southampton at 2022, however that is unlikely to perturb possible suitors. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has urged Jurgen Klopp to sign the 25-year-old to help solve a position that has been a problem area for the Reds all season.
No team in the Premier League's top seven has conceded more goals this season than Liverpool, with Klopp having to rotate his central defensive pairing in an attempt to cure their issues. The goalkeeping position has also been in a state of flux, with Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius both unable to convince as the number one.