(Reuters) – Southampton have not held talks with Premier League leaders Manchester City regarding the transfer of Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk, manager Mauricio Pellegrino has confirmed.
British media reports have said City have begun negotiations with Southampton to take the powerful defender to the Etihad Stadium in the January transfer window.
“I was with (Southampton vice-chairman) Les Reed talking about that but nobody knows about that,” Pellegrino said.
“I know Virgil is an important player and around him will be a lot of speculation like other important players in the squad. I cannot control this and I don’t want to talk about it.”
Van Dijk, who has made 12 league starts for Southampton, was wanted by several Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, who were forced to make a public apology after being accused of making an illegal approach for the player in the close season.
Pellegrino believes the intense speculation surrounding Van Dijk’s future is not likely to affect the player.
“In the past when I was a player I didn’t have the same name as Virgil in the media, but when you hear something that another club wants you it increases the confidence.”
Southampton face 11th-placed Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)