Southampton legend Franny Benali has spoken out regarding the future of Virgil van Dijk, after the transfer window closed without him moving away from the south coast club despite a transfer request. The former full-back told the Southampton Daily Echo:
“Why not try and pursue his ambition at Southampton?… Saints could be looking at £80m-plus. It will be a decision for the club to take but I’m pleased with the stance they have taken and would like to see him remain a Saints player as long as possible. He’s an absolute top class, and I would go as far as to say world-class, player. There’s been a lot of talk about him going to some big clubs in this country but in my opinion he could easily go to a Barcelona, Real Madrid or PSG, anywhere in the world, he’s that good.”
Benali clearly feels that Van Dijk’s failure to move on could actually prove to be the best result for both parties. How Mauricio Pellegrino will reintegrate the central defender remains to be seen, but it could be a big ask for the newly appointed manager after a disappointing start to the season.
The club did benefit from transfer deadline day though, as they netted an impressive £2.3 million from Arsenal’s sale of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool. That’s according to the Southampton Daily Echo, who believe that then chairman Nicola Cortese insisted on the clause when the England international was sold in 2011.
The 24-year-old was a promising talent even when he was at Saint Mary’s in League One, making 43 appearances, with 41 of them coming in his breakthrough season in 2010/11, scoring 10 goals in the process.
Another youngster hoping to follow in his footsteps and make a breakthrough is left-back Matthew Targett. He was strongly linked with a loan move to Newcastle United on deadline day, but journalist Daniel Storey says that the Magpies refused to shell out a loan fee for the defender.
However, there were conflicting reports from Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie who instead claimed that Targett only wanted a six month loan deal, whereas Newcastle would only take him on loan for the season.