Antonio Conte refuses to comment on Chelsea interest in ‘very good’ Virgil van Dijk

By | December 17, 2017

Antonio Conte refused to comment on whether Chelsea could go back in for Virgil van Dijk in January but labelled the Southampton defender as a “really good player”.

The Saints managed to hold onto Van Dijk last summer despite the centre-back handing in a transfer request amid interest from Liverpool and Chelsea.

The 26-year-old, who was an unused substitute against the Blues at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, recently hinted he could be open to a mid-season move away from Southampton.

But Conte did not want to say whether Van Dijk remains on his wishlist as Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino admitted he doesn’t want to lose one of his best players.

After being asked about the Dutchamn, Conte said following Chelsea’s 1-0 win against the Saints: “As you know very well I don’t like to talk about other players of the other team.

“It’s not good. It’s a lack of respect for my players, especially, and then for the other team, in this case for Van Dijk.

“He’s a really good player. He had a bad injury, but I think he recovered very well. I wish him the best.”

Van Dijk played the entirety of Southampton’s 4-1 loss to Leicester in midweek – a result that left Pellegrino criticising his players’

Despite then not playing the defender against Chelsea, Pellegrino insisted the move was to give Van Dijk some rest and said he would start the Dutchman in the Saints’ next game against Huddersfield next Saturday.

“Obviously Virgil is an important player. It always depends how they are, how the energy they’ve got in every training session. A lot of things make an important player,” he said.

“I will repeat that I can’t control the market. I’m not the owner of the player. I can have my opinion and this I have give to the technical director, to the chairman my opinion. After the board can decide altogether which is the best for the team.

“I will recommend to try to keep our best player here in the club. The club was clear in the beginning and I have the same opinion.