Southampton have confirmed the signing of defender Wesley Hoedt from Lazio while also emphatically underlining their intention to keep Virgil van Dijk out of Liverpool's clutches.

Hoedt, 23, became the club's third signing of the summer transfer window after penning a five-year deal at St Mary's on Tuesday. With doubts still lingering over van Dijk's future after his decision to hand in a transfer request last month, Hoedt's arrival on the south coast has been perceived by some as Southampton bringing in a direct replacement for their club captain.

But following comments from chairman Ralph Krueger insisting the former Celtic defender will not be sold this month, Saints have spelled out their intention to play their new signing alongside van Dijk, rather than in place of him.

Southampton's vice-chairman Les Reed said: "Finding a top quality central defender is difficult in the current environment and now we have six internationals in this position, both young and experienced.

"Finding a naturally left-footed player is even more difficult. We have been tracking central defenders on our target list for the past 12 months and Wesley has always been at the top of that list, so it was important to act when the opportunity came."

"Wesley has proven his talent through his performances for Lazio, as well as the Netherlands, and we believe he can develop even further here at Southampton, alongside his international teammate Virgil van Dijk, as well as the likes of Jack Stephens, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek and Florin Gardos.

"With Wesley joining those players, we believe we have the right amount of quality, depth and flexibility at centre-back to help us achieve our aims this season."

Liverpool was forced to abandon their £60m pursuit of van Dijk in June after it emerged the Merseyside club have made an illegal approach to try and sign the defender. When faced with the threat of a Premier League investigation, the Premier League club issued a grovelling apology to Southampton, insisting they had ended their interest in the player.

But interest from Merseyside continues to linger with just eight days of the transfer window remaining and with the club still to add to their three summer signings to date in Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson.

Chelsea have also been credited with interest in the Netherlands international, although reports suggest the Premier League champions will wait until they are given permission from Southampton before entering any talks with the player.

Virgil van Dijk
van Dijk remains a Saints player for now.