Manchester City are reportedly weighing up a £50m bid for Virgil van Dijk when the transfer window opens in January, but Southampton are ready to resist, irrespective of the money dangled before them.
Despite all their attacking brilliance, City have struggled defensively this season, with Pep Guardiola’s side managing only three clean sheets in 17 games. Guardiola is keen to bolster his defense next month, and he is on the lookout for a top defender in the market.
Van Dijk joined from Celtic in September last year for a fee around £12m and has emerged as one of the best centre-halves in the Premier League over the past 15 months. His form has sparked interest among several top Premier League clubs, with an earlier report from the Times suggesting that Chelsea are keen to rival Manchester United in signing the defender in the January transfer window.
Southampton are determined to keep hold on the Dutch defender, who signed a six-year contract in May worth £70,000 a week, making him the club’s highest earner.
Claude Puel, the Southampton manager, has made it clear that the club will not be looking to sell their prized asset. He said, as quoted by ESPN:
I think, for example, for Virgil the price will be the same in two or three years. He can stay for two or three years with us. He’s an important player for the team.
Also, along with José 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.
The South-coast club have made a habit of selling their star players in recent years (Adam Lallana, Sadio Mané, and Morgan Schneiderlin to name a few), but they intend to do it according to their own terms and at a price they dictate. The Saints value van Dijk at £60m, a potential world record fee for a defender, and are in a position to reject offers from top Premier League clubs.