Cape Town - Southampton boss Claude Puel is adamant that Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte will remain at the Premier League club beyond the January transfer window.
Puel was speaking a day after Van Dijk scored the opener in a 4-1 defeat to Tottenham at St Mary's - the biggest loss suffered by the Saints on home soil in nine-and-a-half years.
The team from the south coast have one of the meanest defences in the league, having conceded just 20 goals in 18 games and marshalled at the back by the pair in question.
Fonte has been linked with a departure since helping Portugal to their maiden European Championship title in July, while Van Dijk is a reported target for Chelsea and Manchester City.
But Puel insists his central defensive pairing will not be sold next month as the Frenchman looks to build on a promising first-half of the season, which sees his side sitting eighth in the standings.
"Of course they will both stay (beyond January)," he declared. "It's important for them to stay and have a good attitude and improve our position in the table.
"Virgil is a very important player for us and he will stay here. It will be important with Virgil to continue his work and (help us) go up on the table. For me it's not an idea or view with Virgil (to leave).
"(The situation of) Jose is a little peculiar but he is contracted with Southampton. It's always speculation about different players. It's normal because they are great and important players."