​With the long-mooted transfer of Virgil van Dijk away from St. Mary's rumoured to be inching its seemingly-inevitable conclusion, Southampton and Mauricio Pellegrino are believed to be looking into a deal for Middlesbrough's centre back Ben Gibson to replace the Dutchman. 

Yesterday, ​Van Dijk ​complained of feeling 'insulted by the Saint's treatment of him this summer during the protracted saga, and ​formally handed in a transfer request to further solidify his intention to move away. Liverpool and Chelsea are both interested in the defender who could fetch £60m. 

Should the Dutch star finally get his wish to leave, Pellegrino and the Southampton recruitment team could turn to Boro's Gibson.

After an excellent season personally in England's top flight last year, Gibson has been linked to a move away from the Riverside, but the Teessiders insist that they don't need to sell, as they look to instantly regain promotion back to the Premier League.

If Southampton do sell Van Dijk they will have plenty of money to spend on a replacement and are ready to spend up to £30m on Gibson, according to ​the Sun.

The Saints may need to spend big to tempt Boro into selling, as manager Garry Monk earlier suggested the club don't need to sell and they will only entertain 'extraordinary' offers. 

Pellegrino could also use the England defender's ambitions to play for England at the World Cup next summer to lure him down to Hampshire, with the promise of first team, top flight football in 2017/18.