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Southampton manager throws cold water on Virgil van Dijk rumor, release clause

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Southampton FC v Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC - UEFA Europa League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

One of the best centre backs in the Premier League since his arrival in England last year, Southampton's Virgil van Dijk has reportedly been the subject of interest from several top clubs in the country. The latest to join the chase for the Dutchman were Chelsea, as manager Antonio Conte looks to add defensive reinforcements in the next transfer window.

Amidst the rumours linking Van Dijk to a move away from St. Mary's, a report from the Daily Mirror claimed that the player's contract, a six-year deal signed at the end of last season, contained a £25 million release clause. But today, Southampton manager Claude Puel denied the existence of that would-be easy path to acquisition of the 25-year-old.

"[The release clause] is not true. After this I make no comment about speculation, just to say that Virgil is an important player for the team. For me it’s not a possibility to see him leave."

-Claude Puel; source: Evening Standard

Unfortunately for Puel, Southampton have a strong recent history of selling their best and brightest. Chelsea might not be able to get Van Dijk from them as soon as expected, but in the summer we surely will be challenging Liverpool for the role of Southampton's newest "parent club" over the defender's signature.