Claude Puel has shot down speculation that Virgil van Dijk could leave Saints in January due to a £25m buyout clause in his contract.

The Dutch centre half has been the subject of rampant speculation suggesting a host of big clubs will try and prise him away from St Mary’s in the January transfer window.

The rumours have been fuelled further by reports of a £25m release clause being inserted in the new six year deal he signed in May, and by the fact van Dijk has just changed agent.

His switch to the Wasserman group, the same stable that Ronald Koeman moved to shortly before he left Saints for Everton, and van Dijk’s close links with his former boss, have only heightened speculation further.

However, Puel was utterly definitive when asked about the existence of a buyout clause.

“It’s not true,” he insisted.

“After the other thing is just speculation.”

Van Dijk is contracted to Saints until 2022, meaning the club are very much in the driving seat when it comes to his future.

Talk of the buyout clause, or the fact that the club would value him even near to the £25m mark, can now be chalked down as rubbish.

The 25-year-old is likely to be viewed by the Saints hierarchy as being worth at least the £50m that Manchester City reportedly paid Everton to sign John Stones in the summer.

However, it is clear that they have no intention of selling him in January anyway.

While van Dijk’s centre half partner, Jose Fonte, has 18 months left to run on his deal and can dictate to a certain extent if he so wished, Saints will feel they have the upper hand with the Dutchman.

The club have generally preferred not to sell any leading players in January, and so even if the worse were to happen and van Dijk were to leave in the near future, they would likely insist there was no deal until next summer at the very earliest.

Van Dijk’s change of agents may have raised eyebrows after what happened to Koeman, but Puel was largely nonplussed by it.

“If he wants to change agent, it’s not a problem for me,” he said.

“After this no comment about speculation, just to say that Virgil is an important player for the team, for Southampton, of course.

“For me it’s not a possibility to see him away.

“It’s important to consider this in this moment and to not speak further about this.”