Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool rumours quashed by Southampton boss Claude Puel
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 01/12/16 5:47pm
Southampton boss Claude Puel has dismissed reports that Virgil van Dijk could join Liverpool in January.
The central defender is reported to be a transfer target for Jurgen Klopp's side, who have struggled to keep clean sheets, after a fine start to the season at St Mary's.
Van Dijk has been a mainstay in Puel's starting line-up, despite his preference to frequently rotate, and the Southampton boss said suggestions the Dutch defender could be set to leave the club are wide of the mark.
"It's just speculation, and I cannot participate with speculation," he said.
"All the players are in the club's project, and for this season it is important to continue this work with good spirit and this is true with all the players. It is just a rumour and it's not important for me."
Puel also refused to discuss Southampton's reported interest in Celtic striker Moussa Dembele, but said he has sympathy for Alan Pardew, who is under pressure with his Crystal Palace side having lost six games in a row, because of the wider picture surrounding Premier League managers.
Southampton visit Palace on Saturday having impressed in defeating Everton 1-0 on Sunday and Arsenal 2-0 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening but will be without the injured Matt Targett and Dusan Tadic, who will have to wear a face mask to protect his nose when returning to training.
"It's very difficult for all the managers, like for me also," said Puel. "Every time it is strong games with possibilities to play against strong, different players and quality players. It's always difficult. It's the same for all the managers and all the clubs.
"It's important for me, for my players, to stay with a good concentration about this game because [Palace are] a good team with good players and they play at home."