Southampton manager Claude Puel has ruled out sale of Virgil van Dijk in January

Van Dijk has been repeatedly linked with moves to Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City with all three clubs looking for defensive reinforcements. The Dutch defender, who joined Southampton from Celtic in 2015 for a £13 million fee, has been putting in some very impressive performances for the Saints this season and has caught the eye of big clubs around the world.

However, Southampton will be keen to hold on to him after having repeatedly had to sell important players to bigger clubs over the past season. And manager Claude Puel has reiterated this, saying van Dijk is key to the side and are hoping to keep him for a few more years at least before selling him.

“I think for Virgil the price will be the same in two or three years,” Puel said, according to Sky Sports. “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.”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Virgil van Dijk of Southampton outjumps goalkeeper David Goresh of Hapoel Be'er Sheva during the UEFA Europa League Group K match between Southampton FC and Hapoel Be'er-Sheva FC at St Mary's Stadium on December 8, 2016 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Dominant and towering : Virgil van Dijk has been rock solid in the heart of defence for Southampton this seaosn. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Liverpool are said to be looking at van Dijk in order to bolster their defensive ranks. Dejan Lovren has been in good form under manager Jurgen Klopp but van Dijk would represent a significant upgrade and could form a partnership for years to come with Joel Matip, who has been one of the Reds’ best players this season.

Chelsea have also been doing brilliantly, but with John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic set to leave the club, they will need to add numbers to their defence. Kurt Zouma is on the verge of a return but Antonio Conte will be keen to bolster his squad to combat any injury issues as the Blues look to win the Premier League title.

Manchester United are also on the lookout for a new central defender after being forced into playing a makeshift back four on several occasions this season, at times playing two full-backs as centre backs. Phil Jones has made a return to the side but given the Englishman’s injury history, Mourinho will understandably be reluctant to rely on him.

Manchester City are currently the favourites to land the Dutchman and their defensive issues have been well documented. Vincent Kompany has been injured more than he has played in the last two seasons and Guardiola’s experiments with Aleksandr Kolarov at centre back haven’t been too successful.

City are in desperate need of defensive reinforcements and it is no surprise that Guardiola has singled out Virgil van Dijk as the man to solve his issues, given the defender’s performances this season. Van Dijk is averaging 2 tackles per game in the Premier League and a hugely impressive 7.1 clearances per game in 17 appearances, and could be exactly what City need.

If Claude Puel’s comments are anything to go by, however, City will have no chance of landing him in January. City are apparently willing to pay up to £50m for van Dijk and while January might not happen, if City were to aggressively pursue van Dijk in the summer or increase their bid, Southampton would be hard pressed not to sell van Dijk.

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