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 By PA Sport

Virgil van Dijk is 'not for sale' - Southampton chairman Krueger

Craig Burley examines whether Chelsea or Liverpool need Virgil van Dijk more and why he has not left Southampton yet.

Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has told PA Sport that Virgil van Dijk is "not for sale in this window" as keeping the defender is "the statement we need to make." 

Van Dijk, 26, has been training away from the main group at Southampton after handing in a transfer request amid links to Liverpool and Chelsea, but Krueger is adamant the Netherlands international will not be allowed to depart.

"Virgil is not for sale in this window and it's not personal,'' he said, just days after the Gao family bought an 80 percent stake in the club. "It's not about him, it's about an overall much, much, much bigger picture -- a change of course for Southampton.

"The first summer I was here five players went out and six went in, not counting academy [players]. [In the ] second summer three went out, seven came in, and third summer five went out, five came in. Now it is one out and two in, and this is who we want to become.

"We want to mature, we want to be a team that can profit from synergies that create a much more attractive football and a better product for the fans, and gives us a chance to get back into Europe.

"That's one player in this whole equation of 25 and it is the visible one, but for us it's the principle and it's the path and it's the statement we need to make to get to a new space as a club.

"We are very, very adamant about carrying this through. The new partnership has completely and wholly backed our strategy and plan and on Sept. 1 people will see how serious we were and are."

Liverpool are set to make Virgil van Dijk the most expensive defender ever.
Virgil van Dijk signed a six-year contract with Southampton in May 2016.

In recent years Southampton have become synonymous with selling their best players. Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin, Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane have all moved on.

None of those players made a public transfer request, but Krueger believes Van Dijk can be integrated into the group -- and accepted, if not forgiven, by supporters.

"Well, first of all, they have experienced it here before on multiple occasions and it hasn't been a problem," the former head coach of the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers said.

"I can go back to Morgan Schneiderlin in our first summer and I could list others, but let's not do that.

"We've had other examples of that where it was no problem, so I don't see that as a problem."

Krueger praised new manager Mauricio Pellegrino as a "strong leader" for the way he has dealt with the situation, and said Southampton are actively trying to add to their squad, with Lazio defender Wesley Hoedt a target.

"We're definitely not done," Krueger said after the club signed Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina and Lech Poznan defender Jan Bednarek. "We're looking at options but again we're not in a position to just bring in anybody.

"It would have to be a player that would fit and tick all the boxes of our needs, not only short-term but long-term. Football is still active, the black box is buzzing."

Kruger was also upbeat about the club's new owners carrying on Southampton traditions, saying the Gao family, who will join the daughter of late Saints owner Markus Liebherr on the ownership board along with chairman Krueger, were the right people at the right time to take over.

"First and foremost, [the ambition is] to continue on the path we're on -- of developing this club into a consistently successful team in the Premier League after four years in the top eight,'' Krueger said. "That next level of growth is a tough one. We all know what the barriers are ahead of us, but we believe we have the potential of finding a way back into Europe.

"It's never easy in the Premier League but it remains that which we strive for. We are patient. They would like us to maintain the football model that we have going right now."


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