Liverpool will not pursue a January deal for Virgil van Dijk at Southampton though his defensive partner Jose Fonte is set to leave the club.
Southampton manager Claude Puel wants two new centre-backs in January as he braces himself for offers for Van Dijk and 32-year-old captain Fonte who took to instagram on Tuesday to confirm the club would not be offering him a new contract.
Towering Dutch defender Van Dijk is understood to have a £25million release clause in his contract and has drawn attention from England’s top Premier League sides with Manchester City, United and Everton all showing an interest.
Liverpool have also been linked with the 25-year-old but will not pursue a deal in January as they prioritise other areas and prepare to welcome back Joel Matip and the promising Joe Gomez from injury.
Southampton captain Fonte, meanwhile, who has 18 months left on his current deal, said: ‘Just to set the record straight I did NOT reject a new contract, in fact I have been informed by Southampton that they are NOT offering me a new contract. My focus is on Thursday helping us win the game!’
Fonte has been frustrated at being used primarily in league games this campaign after playing a key role in Southampton qualifying for Europe last season.
He told reporters: ‘Of course I’m disappointed. I want to play every game. I’m fit to play every game. I’m always on the dance floor – I’m always fit.
‘I worked really hard last year to play Europa League. I worked really hard and obviously I’m disappointed, but I have to accept the decision from the manager and be ready when I am called to play.
‘If I’m called to play Europa League, I will be there, as simple as that.’
Elaborating on his contract situation, Fonte said: ‘I don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s no contract on the table.
‘There’s nothing on the table that I didn’t sign. There was nothing there, to be honest.’
‘There was in the summer, they offered me a pay rise. They didn’t offer me a new contract.
‘They offered me a pay rise which I’m entitled to discuss with my agent and entitled to say no to as well.
‘I’m entitled to have my own opinion, so apart from that that’s it.’
United manager Jose Mourinho is an admirer of Fonte and wants an experienced player to improve his back four. Everton are also admirers and had a bid rejected for Fonte in the summer but are now keen to reduce the age of their squad.