Southampton are confident they will win their war with Virgil van Dijk – because of the World Cup.
The £60million-rated Holland star defender has submitted a transfer request this week but that was immediately rejected by the Saints.
And the stand-off between the pair is set to continue with boss Mauricio Pellegrino unlikely to select a player who has admitted not being in a mentally fit state to take to the field.
Van Dijk has been missing since the end of January anyway with injury but Southampton’s stance has remained consistent.
And they believe the player will be the first one to blink when the transfer window slams shut in just over three weeks’ time.
Saints are hoping to re-integrate the former Celtic defender once it becomes clear that they are standing by their promise to keep him at St Mary’s – for this season at least.
But the ace up the club’s sleeve is next year’s World Cup finals tournament in Russia.
A source said: “For three years out of every four, the player holds the upper hand in cases such as these.
“In the other one, the club does – as any player worth his salt wants to go to the World Cup.
“That’s the reason why Southampton are so confident that Van Dijk will eventually return to the fold.”
Ironically, the Netherlands are facing a desperate scrap with France and Sweden to qualify for the top two spots in Group A.
The picture should become a lot clearer following the next set of fixtures – internationals that Van Dijk will miss because he is not playing for his club side.