Jan 11, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at ​St Mary's Stadium
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Claude Puel lavishes praise on Virgil van Dijk

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk in action during his side's Premier League clash with Hull City at the KCOM Stadium on November 6, 2016
© SilverHub
Southampton boss Claude Puel pays tribute to "winner" Virgil van Dijk, who continues to be linked with a move away from the club.

Southampton boss Claude Puel has paid tribute to Virgil van Dijk after the centre-back produced another impressive performance in Wednesday night's League Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool.

Van Dijk, 25, joined Southampton from Celtic in the summer of 2015 and it is understood that his value has rocketed to £50m amid reported interest from Chelsea and Manchester City.

The Netherlands international again starred for his team in Wednesday's 1-0 success over Liverpool and Puel has claimed that the defender will continue to improve.

"He's a strong man, a strong player. He's physical, he's a technical player and we are lucky to have a player with his quality and his spirit also, because he is a winner," Puel told reporters.

"He gives always the example for the team, for the young players. I think this season he finds consistency and every game is a good performance and this is very interesting for him and us. I think he has improved a lot this season."

Van Dijk has scored four times in 27 appearances for Southampton this season.

Claude Puel watches on during the Premier League game between Stoke City and Southampton on December 14, 2016
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20Sunderland2855182450-2620