Belfast Telegraph

Southampton boss unaware of any fresh approach for Virgil van Dijk

Mauricio Pellegrino says transfer speculation surrounding Virgil van Dijk is out of his control but does not believe Southampton have received a recent approach for the defender.

Holland centre-back Van Dijk expressed his desire to leave St Mary's last summer, handing in a transfer request amid links with Liverpool and Chelsea.

Question marks once again surround the future of the wantaway 26-year-old with the January transfer window poised to open.

Rumours were fuelled when Van Dijk was left on the bench for last weekend's Premier League defeat at champions Chelsea but manager Pellegrino insists that was purely down to squad rotation.

Asked if Premier League leaders Manchester City had enquired about his star defender, Pellegrino replied: "I don't think so.

"This morning I was with Les (Reed, Southampton vice-chairman) talking about that but nobody knows about that.

"I know Virgil is an important player.

"Around him there is a lot of speculation - like other players, because we've got important players in the squad - but I cannot control this and I don't want to talk too much about that."

Van Dijk was an unused substitute for the 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge as Southampton's winless run stretched to five Premier League games.

Saints, who sit three points above the drop zone, face an important home match with Huddersfield on Saturday ahead of a tricky run of quick-fire fixtures against Tottenham, Manchester United and Crystal Palace.

Pellegrino plans to rotate his squad during the busy festive period and hinted Van Dijk could be recalled for the Terriers game at St Mary's.

"I will decide and confirm the team and Virgil is like everybody; he can be on the bench because I rotate all of them when you've got a lot of games in a row, like we did last week.

"And this week also we have another three games, (it is) difficult.

"I think we will need all of (the players) fresh and I think we've got enough of a squad to change some players.

"Nothing more to talk about."

When asked whether the incessant speculation would distract Van Dijk on the pitch, Pellegrino suggested it may actually improve his performances.

"I don't know," Pellegrino replied.

"In the past, when I was a player, I didn't have the same name that Virgil has in the press and the media but when you hear something that another club wants you, it increases your confidence, no?".

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