Southampton have begun planning for life without Virgil van Dijk after reports suggested that they could move for £12m-rated defender Wesley Hoedt.
The Lazio centre-back, who was on the Saints' radar last summer too, has been earmarked as Van Dijk's successor on the south coast, according to the Daily Mail.
Southampton are making contingency plans in the likely event that Van Dijk reiterates his desire to move to Merseyside this week when talks between the club captain, his agent and Saints representatives take place at the club's training base.
Van Dijk has already informed the Saints of his wish to join Jurgen Klopp's side, but a £60m transfer seemed all but over in June when his side threatened to report the Reds over an illegal approach for the Netherlands international.
Van Dijk has been forced to train alone as punishment for his behaviour since his return to pre-season training, and has no desire to stay with his current employers despite Southampton's best attempts to talk him around.
Liverpool have still retained an interest in Van Dijk, knowing full well of his determination to push for a move to Anfield, and they can finally land their man as Southampton look for defensive reinforcements ahead of the new season.
My life:— H A M E Z (@St_JaMe5) July 30, 2017
- Wake up.
- Open Twitter.
- Search 'Virgil van Dijk'.
- Search 'Naby Keita'.
Manager Manuel Pellegrino has reignited the club's interest in Hoedt - a compatriot of Van Dijk - and discussions about a possible switch to the Premier League from Serie A are thought to have taken place already.
Hoedt, who has also been tracked by the likes of Everton and Leicester City recently, would provide competition for places among the Saints' current centre-back pairing of Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida.
His possible arrival in England would arguably strengthen Liverpool's stance in attempting to poach Van Dijk from St.Mary's, but Southampton would still hold out for the price tag that they slapped on the former Celtic man's head earlier in the summer.
Hoedt has spent the last two seasons with Lazio following a free transfer move from Alkmaar. The 23-year-old has accumulated 61 appearances in that time, and the four-times capped international's versatility also allows him to play as an auxiliary defensive midfielder if needed.