This would ensure the Dutchman is the joint-most expensive defender in world football, level with the fee Paris Saint-Germain paid to sign David Luiz from Chelsea in 2014.
A proven top-level defender with potential to continue to grow, Van Dijk was sidelined for the rest of the season after picking up an ankle injury in February.
But as this has not quelled speculation about a move, Puel has addressed Van Dijk’s future, saying he believes the club will be eager to keep him at St Mary’s beyond the summer.
“For Virgil it was a bad injury, now it’s OK, the surgery is finished, he can work normally,” he said.
“He can start to work to come back ready for the next season, with us.
“He’s our captain, he’s important for us, he has a long contract and I think the directors want to keep him.”
Puel’s words aren’t quite as emphatic as Sky Sports News claimed, providing a sensationalist spin that Puel had said he ‘will still be at the club next season.’
The Frenchman would no doubt prefer to retain a player of Van Dijk’s calibre, and his suggestion that the club’s directors are eager to keep him on the south coast hardly surprising.
Other key players such as Jose Fonte, Graziano Pelle, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and Rickie Lambert have also left the club in recent seasons.
Van Dijk is already claimed to have committed his future to a variety of clubs, most notably Liverpool and Chelsea, though none of these have come from reputable sources as yet.
As Puel notes, Van Dijk does still have five years left on his current contract, which is believed to be worth £70,000 a week.
With the 25-year-old still in recovery, it is difficult to predict his next move, but Southampton are unlikely to stand in his way if they receive a £50 million bid.