Southampton V Swansea at St. Mary's Stadium : Match Preview

11 August 2017 07:34
Pellegrino hopes for Van Dijk U-turn over decision to leave Southampton

Mauricio Pellegrino has insisted Southampton will keep trying to persuade Virgil Van Dijk to stay at St Mary's.

Saints' new boss has stressed the club still expect wantaway defender Van Dijk to feature this term, although he will miss Saturday's Premier League opener against Swansea due to a virus.

Dutch defender Van Dijk has submitted a transfer request amid persistent interest from Liverpool, but manager Pellegrino remains adamant Saints will not give up on the former Celtic star.

Van Dijk appears set on forcing a move however, and Pellegrino admitted there could come a point where Southampton may not be able to alter the 26-year-old's stance.

"My reaction is the same that I said three weeks ago: we are expecting him (Van Dijk) to come back, to train with us because we need the players, we need all of them," said the manager.

"Hopefully he can change his point of view. Virgil is an important player and we need him focused on our club."

Asked if Southampton can genuinely retain an unhappy player, Pellegrino said: "But the club was clear from the beginning with the player.

"We can't control every single situation. We can decide our dynamic in this group and Virgil is part of our group; he has a contract.

"He has spoken with (executive director) Les Reed. We've spoken with the player but not too much, a couple of meetings.

"I was clear, the club was clear, he was clear on his position. But we have to keep going because I can't control the thinking or the feeling of the player."

When quizzed on whether Van Dijk would be available for selection this weekend, Pellegrino added: "No, no. Because this week he was with some trouble with a virus and he couldn't train the last two days."

Club record signing Mario Lemina could make his competitive debut against Swansea at St Mary's on Saturday, with fellow new arrival Jan Bednarek also in the mix to feature.

Confirming his desire to make further signings, Pellegrino said: "Yes, there are certain positions where we would like to add strength. But we never know because the market is difficult. It's not easy for us.

"For me with Mario (Lemina) it's a mix. He's a defensive midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder and he has quality, strength in the middle. We didn't have this profile of player I think.

"Physically Mario's good, he's been training at Juventus.

"Jan (Bednarek) is a young player that I think has the capability to adapt to the Premier League. And Mario is a player that is coming from one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"We are happy with that. Both of them can help us to be stronger."

Swansea have omitted Gylfi Sigurdsson from their squad as the saga over his proposed transfer to Everton continues.

Fernando Llorente is absent after fracturing his arm while on a cycling holiday last month, joining Nathan Dyer (Achilles) and Ki Sung-yueng (knee) on the sidelines.

England Under-21 striker Tammy Abraham is expected to make his debut on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

Boss Paul Clement insists Llorente will be staying at Swansea after admitting the club are in "limbo" over the Sigurdsson transfer saga.

As Swansea and Everton remain in talks to break the deadlock over Sigurdsson's protracted transfer to Goodison Park, Clement believes Llorente will not be following the Icelandic playmaker out of the exit door at the Liberty Stadium.

"He (Llorente) has got a year to go on his deal and we'd like him to stay for this year and longer," Clement said.

"I'm confident he will because of the conversations I've had with Fernando.

"He's happy here, he likes the work we're doing, and he likes the way we play.

"He's a really good player and it's a shame with the injury he got in the summer.

"It's a freak one and he did finish off the season strongly. His goals were vital and we want to have him as an option."

Sigurdsson's future would appear to be on Merseyside, with Everton boss Ronald Koeman again claiming that the deal for the 27-year-old playmaker is "still close".

Despite suggestions that transfer talks between the two clubs had broken down, Koeman said Everton remain in negotiations with Swansea - a point backed up by Clement.

Swansea value Sigurdsson at B#50million but Clement called for compromise on both sides to get the deal done.

"The situation is our club have a valuation of the player, the other club have a valuation, and at the moment the two have to meet," Clement said.

"The objective and the aim is that at some point the two clubs will meet.

"I think the way it's going I think there needs to be more than likely a compromise on both sides. That is very often how a deal is made."

Source: PAR