Southampton staff have been told that it will be “business as usual” following a buyout of 80 per cent of the club by the Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao which takes ultimate control out of the hands of Katharina Liebherr, whose family have overseen the remarkable St Mary’s renaissance.
The deal to sell around £210 million of the club finally went through on Monday after weeks of delays in transferring the money out of China in order to complete what amounts to a change of ownership. Gao has bought the stake as an individual rather than through his company Lander Holdings, and Liebherr will remain as part of the ownership structure.
The question over Virgil Van Dijk’s future will continue to be asked but as things stand, Southampton are adamant that nothing changed in that regard. The Dutch defender has been told that, despite his request, he will not be permitted to leave the club in this transfer window, a strategy that has been pursued with the sale of Liebherr’s stake, inherited from her late father Markus, in mind.
Van Dijk, who asked to be allowed to leave this month, had suffered from a virus at the end of last week having previously been training separately from Mauricio Pellegrino’s first team squad. He and the rest of the squad were expected in for training later on Monday after a day off following the 0-0 draw with Swansea at St Mary’s on Saturday.