Southampton are beginning to prepare for life after Virgil van Dijk, with the Saints making a bid for another Dutch defender in the form of Lazio star Wesley Hoedt, according to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.

A conclusion in the ongoing saga for the Saints star is said to be close and with Mauricio Pellegrino resigned to losing the centre-back he has switched his attentions to replacing the wantaway star.

The man he is looking to do that is reportedly Hoedt, the Lazio defender who stood out as one of the best in his position in Serie A last season.

The Rome-based side are said to be expecting to lose the 23-year-old this summer, with some big clubs as well as Southampton linked with his services.

The Netherlands international made 21 league starts in the previous campaign and scored three goals. He is good with the ball at his feet and at over six feet three inches he is a commanding presence in the air – so he should be a perfect foil for Maya Yoshida.

Jack Stephens partnered the Japanese star at the heart of the Saints defence in their 0-0 draw with Swansea City on Saturday, but if Van Dijk does leave those two and new signing Jan Bednarek as the only recognised centre-backs currently in place at the St Mary’s Stadium.

Southampton, for whom money appears to no longer be an issue after Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao took a majority shareholding in the club this week, are said to have bid €17 million (£15.5 million) for Hoedt, who should be able to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League.

The Saints’ next match sees them hosting West Ham United at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon, with the hosts looking to build on that draw with Swansea – but whether they will be able to complete a deal for the Dutchman in time for that fixture remains to be seen.


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