Claude Puel insists Southampton want to hold on to Van Dijk

Dutch international defender is one of the most sought after centre backs in the Premier League

Virgil van Dijk, Southampton

Virgil van Dijk, Southampton. Martin Rickett/PA Archive/PA Images

Southampton manager Claude Puel insists Virgil van Dijk will be at the club next season.

The defender has been linked with a move to several fellow Premier League sides, including leaders Chelsea.

Van Dijk has been out injured since January with a foot ligament problem.

Puel says he expects the 25 year old player to be at St Mary's beyond the summer transfer window.

"He is our captain. He is important for us. He is a fantastic player. We will wait until the beginning of the season to see him again on the pitch. He has a long contract and I think the directors want to keep him," said the manager.

Van Dijk's long time centre back partner Jose Fonte left Southampton for West Ham in the January transfer window after speculation had linked him with an exit.

The Netherlands international has a contract with Southampton which runs all the way until 2022.

He has made over 70 appearances for the Saints scoring nine goals since signing from Celtic in 2015 and has won 12 caps for his country since making his debut.

Southampton are 10th in the Premier League this season after Sunday's 0-0 draw at Liverpool, and face Arsenal at St Mary's on Wednesday.