SOUTHAMPTON boss Ronald Koeman has ditched his interest in Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk.
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The Dutchman has been linked with his £15 million-rated compatriot for almost a year since taking over at the Premier League outfit.
However, he has now signed Queens Park Rangers centre-half Steven Caulker on a season-long loan and admitted the deal could become permanent.
Koeman was in the market for a central defender after losing out to Spurs in the race for Toby Alderweireld, who spent last season on loan at St Mary’s from Atletico Madrid.
Former White Hart Lane youth product Caulker was available as QPR seek to trim their wage bill after being relegated from the top flight last season.
It is beieved the Saints have paid the London side over £1million for his services for the new campaign.
Caulker, 23, who has one England cap, said: “I’m very pleased and very excited. This club has done fantastically well, especially over the last two years.
“As soon as I got the phone call to say a fee was agreed with Southampton, I was delighted to get the opportunity to come and play under a great manager.
“This club is an ambitious one, so to be part of this is a great opportunity – it’s a chance for me to prove myself.”
Koeman said: “I think we are bringing in a good defender, who has made his debut for the national team.
“He is still a young player and it’s a good opportunity for him. We needed more competition in the centre-back position.”
The south coast club have raided the SPFL champions twice in recent years, shelling out £12million for midfielder Victor Wanyama and £10million on goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
As Van Dijk’s value increases towards the £15m mark, it now seems unlikely that Van Dijk will be offered a chance to head to the south coast to join up with the two other ex-Celts.
Celtic supporters can expect plenty of other stories linking Van Dijk to English sides but he will be going nowhere unless the deal suits the 4IAR champions.