BOSS Ralph Hasenhuttl said Saints were in negotiations with central defender Jannik Vestergaard over a new contract and added: “He still knows that we want to have him here.”

Vestergaard has played a key role for Saints this season, scoring three goals in 22 appearances.

The Dane has been linked with a move away from the south coast in the past, but has become a regular starter under Hasenhuttl this campaign.

Vestergaard, 28, joined Saints for £18million from Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach in 2018.

It is understood his current contract is set to expire in the summer of 2022.

Asked whether he had made it clear to Vestergaard how much he wanted him to stay, Hasenhuttl replied: “I think he feels at the moment, as a leader on the pitch.

“When he performs well and shows the form he has shown after the summer break, where he was physically very strong, then he can be definitely one of the better centre-backs in the Premier League.

“This is very helpful for us and he knows this. I think in the end, he knows that we are happy he is here.

“We didn’t always have such a good time together. He was also struggling, like we all have during these two-and-a-half years since I’ve been here.

“But especially this season he has shown some very good qualities and has developed his game massively. He still knows that we want to have him here.

“We are in negotiations with him and, hopefully, we will find a solution that is best for both of us.”