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Puel plans to hang on to reported reported Manchester City target Van Dijk

Claude Puel insists Southampton can resist whatever cash is waved in front of them for Virgil van Dijk next month.

Manchester City are reportedly weighing up an eye-watering £50million bid for the Dutch defender when the transfer window opens.

That would represent a huge profit on the £13m Saints paid Celtic for Van Dijk in September 2015, and the south-coast club have had form for selling their star players in recent years.

But Puel says Southampton have no need to cash in on 25-year-old Van Dijk, who signed a new six-year contract at St Mary's in May.

"I think, for example, for Virgil the price will be the same in two or three years," said the Saints boss.

"He can stay for two or three years with us. He's an important player for the team.

"Also, along with Jose Fonte and Steven Davis, he is a captain of the team. He has a good personality, strong character, quality, and of course he will stay with us."

City have struggled defensively this season, keeping just three clean sheets in 17 games, and City chief Pep Guardiola is keen to strengthen his back four to enhance their title challenge.

But Puel also has ambitions towards the top of the Premier League table with Saints currently seventh and eyeing another tilt at the Europa League at the very least.

"Of course we would like another season with the possibility to play those games," he added.

"It's very interesting and different from the Premier League. We were unlucky with our European campaign this season and want to find other possibilities to play those games, and the best possibility is via the Premier League.

"It's a good challenge for us. We know now all the opponents in the Premier League and if we can play against these teams at a good level then we have the chance to stay ambitious in the second half of the season."

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