Southampton based newspaper the Daily Echo claim that new manager Mauricio Pellegrino is planning for life without captain Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutchman has been forced to train alone at the club’s Staplewood base, while his team-mates have been playing pre-season games in France.
Pellegrino wants to force the 26-year-old to stay, but accepts that he’s not in the right situation, mentally or physically, to begin the season in the team.
As a result, Yoshida and Stephens will be the first-choice centre-back pairing for the opening weekend, claims the report.
Pellegrino hopes to eventually reintegrate van Dijk into the squad upon Southampton’s return from France, but has accepted the fact it may not be possible – with the defender already alerting officials of his plans to depart.
Liverpool, having given up our pursuit of Naby Keita, are desperate to bring in the centre-back, and will be waiting in the wings for the right time to submit an official offer.