Date: 18th September 2017 at 7:55am
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Maya Yoshida has said that with competition in the backline at Southampton already tough, the return of Virgil van Dijk after summer shenanigans should only help to keep everyone on their toes.

With van Dijk returning to the bench for the first time in last weekend’s tie against Crystal Palace and making an appearance as an extremely late substitute on the day, Yoshida was quoted post game by the Daily Echo as saying that it would certainly further increase competition at the heart of defence and that meant everybody had to maintain their standards or places would be lost.

With Yoshida partnering Wesley Hoedt against Palace, we also have Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek to consider.

‘We all know he (Van Dijk) is one of the best players in the Premier League but realistically he has not played for eight months so it is not easy to come back and just play. He will need a little bit of time. We now have Hoedt and Jack Stephens so we have a lot of competition between players. There is no guarantee of anyone being in the team, including myself. We all have to ensure every game that we focus for the whole 90 minutes and keep fit. Then it is going to be a good benefit for the team as well.’

With Steven Davis securing our first away win of the 2017/18 Premier League campaign, Yoshida admitted everyone in the dressing room had been pleased with that and hopefully now we can get some momentum moving forward.

‘Everyone fought a lot to get the three points. It is always tough playing against Benteke but we fought a lot and we deserved the three points. We needed to get a second goal – then it would have been easier. 1-0 is always dangerous, especially the last 10-15 minutes when they put the ball into the box every time. But we have done really well.’

With Mario Lemina’s performance showing why the club paid Juventus ’16million to bring him in, many pundits were waxing lyrical about his showing and Yoshida admitted he was settling in well and was now starting to show his worth.

‘After three games, he is getting adjusted a little bit. It`s much better than August. I am very happy for him. He was man-of-the-match today. It is a quite good squad we have.’

The Liverpool Echo also carry additional comments from manager Mauricio Pellegrino, saying that there are reports he wanted to ‘sell’ van Dijk this summer and he doesn’t know what the future holds.

I can find no reports with him saying that and they certainly don’t quote him admitting that either. So the reports seem unfounded, especially given Pellegrino’s own words but the claims also state that he was overruled by the board.

What they do quote follows and in was in relation to Pellegrino hoping he could keep van Dijk through January.

‘Hopefully yes, but now for me I have got this group of players and we try to push them, to help them, to work with them, to improve every single day. We never know how the market will be in January because we can bring some players because every single squad can improve. We have got people who are working to improve our squad all the time, and for the other teams it is the same. They will push to bring the best players. Virgil is one case because he is one of the best players in the Premier League and it is normal that the biggest teams in the Premier League want to sign him.’


‘We have to accept that everybody can express on the pitch. Around the player there is a lot of interest. You know how it works by now, it is a big business behind them. In the past we were a game, now we are a game but also a big business, and we have to accept that. Around him also in the same situation. Now we have to leave aside the situation and now everything is normal.’

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