Cape Town - Southampton
boss Claude Puel says Virgil van Dijk is not for sale amid interest in
his services from a number of Premier League clubs.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool are all believed to be considering a move for the 25-year-old Saints captain, who has been out of action since January with an ankle injury.
A former Groningen and Celtic centre-back, the Dutch international was excellent for Puel's side this season until his injury knock.
Following Southampton's 0-0 draw with Liverpool in Sunday, Puel told reporters: "He has a long contract and the directors want to keep him.
"He has authority, the leadership of the team, he is a fantastic player.
"It's important for us, of course, to wait until the beginning of the season to see him on the pitch with Southampton."
And with regards to his comeback from injury, Puel added: "It was a bad injury for him and for us, because it was not a good moment.
"It was difficult after the departure of José Fonte to West Ham and just in the same time we had the injury of Virgil – it was difficult for us.
"It’s a good thing to see for the second part of the season (Jack) Stephens and (Maya) Yoshida at this level, but for Virgil it was a bad injury.
"Now it’s okay. His surgery is finished, he can work normally, he can start in the gym the work to come back for next season, ready for next season with us."
The Saints next welcome Arsenal to St Mary's Stadium on Wednesday evening in an English Premiership clash.
kick off is at 20:45.