Virgil van Dijk’s manager Claude Puel has said that the player will be remaining at Southampton next season.

Van Dijk, who is the team’s captain, is recovering after surgery on his ankle following an injury he picked up playing against Leicester at the end of January.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s game against Arsenal, Puel said that he expects Van Dijk to return at the start of next season and to still be wearing a Southampton shirt.

“It was a bad injury,” he said. “But now it’s okay. The surgery is finished, he can work normally, he can start the gym work and rehab to come back for next season….and with us. 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”.

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Ralph Krueger, the team’s chairman, made it clear in February that he is eager to keep Van Dijk after the player was widely linked with teams such as Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
Speaking at the time Krueger said, “We are just out of the January transfer window and are striving to keep this group together and to build on it. Virgil is very committed us for a long time and we don’t see anything but that in our future. He is our team captain and we don’t see him anywhere else than in red and white stripes.”

Puell added that he hopes to see the return of Charlie Austin, who has been absent with a shoulder injury since December, back in action before the end of the season. Speaking after Austin played for the club’s U23 team last week Puel said, “I am happy with his work. If he continues perhaps it would be interesting to see him play.”