Chelsea’s hopes of landing Virgil Van Dijk have been boosted after the want-away defender was told he is not bigger than Southampton, by Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino.
The Dutch centreback wants to leave St Mary’s this summer and has handed in a transfer request after seeing a move to Liverpool fall through.
The Reds remain interested in the former Celtic star, but Chelsea are also hoping to lure him to Stamford Bridge this summer.
Southampton insist Van Dijk is not for sale, but Pellegrino’s comments suggest he might be losing patience with the situation.
“The problem here is that Virgil is one of the most important players,” he said.
“But there isn’t one player more important than the 11 players playing together.
“Virgil is an important player but the club was clear from the beginning with the player. We cannot control every situation and Virgil is part of our club because he has a contract.
“The player is clear with his position but we have to keep going because I can’t control the thinking of the player at this moment.”
Pellegrino added: “He won’t be available this weekend as he had some trouble with a virus and hasn’t trained the last two days.
“We are expecting him to come back and hopefully he can change his point of view.”
Chelsea have already signed Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willy Caballero, Alvaro Morata and Antonio Rudiger this summer but Antonio Conte wants to add further additions to strengthen a squad that will be competing on four fronts this season.
When asked about transfers on Thursday at his press conference, the Blues boss said: “The club knows very well what is my opinion. The club are trying to do their best in the transfer market.”