The Dutch centre-half has reportedly caught the attention of a number of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, with Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool all rumoured to be interested.
The 25-year-old, who signed from Celtic for £13m in 2015, has been sidelined since an ankle injury ended his season in January and Puel is adamant his defensive linchpin has not played his last game in a Saints shirt.
Liverpool 0 Southampton 0 player ratings
Liverpool 0 Southampton 0 player ratings
1/22 Simon Mignolet – 5 out of 10
He was only forced to make a small number of saves, so it was an easy afternoon for the keeper.
2/22 Nathaniel Clyne – 6 out of 10
He was charging up and down the channels, but at times he was leaving Liverpool vulnerable the back when he was struggling to track back.
3/22 Dejan Lovren – 5 out of 10
Was clumsy in his challenges which gave away a cluster of unnecessary fouls. However, he held the line well at the back and used possession well.
4/22 Joel Matip – 6 out of 10
It was a relatively straight forward afternoon for the defender due to a lack of attacks from the Saints, but he did his job when he was called upon.
5/22 James Milner – 4 out of 10
He missed from the penalty spot, which denied Liverpool the chance to take the lead. Despite an impressive record from the spot, Forster came out on top this time.
6/22 Emre Can – 5 out of 10
Appeared to run out of ideas in possession – when he was on the edge of the box he was just giving the ball away.
7/22 Lucas – 6 out of 10
He was pumping balls up to the strikers, but his efforts went unrewarded. He looked energetic, but he came out second best in a number of 50/50 challenges.
8/22 Georgino Wijnaldum – 6 out of 10
A textbook display from Wijnaldum in the middle, but sometimes he needs to use the simple option as opposed to always going for the long ball.
9/22 Roberto Firmino – 7 out of 10
Was Liverpool’s best player in the first half – he appeared to have no end of energy and his movement off the ball was creating chances.
10/22 Philippe Coutinho – 4 out of 10
His movement was good, but when he was on the ball he failed to take any of his chances. He looked as though he needed an injection of confidence.
11/22 Divock Origi – 6 out of 10
He looked menacing when he was charging at the Southampton defence, but he was just lacking the final product.
12/22 Fraser Forster – 9 out of 10
His exquisite penalty save kept the scores level and he made a collection of crucial stops throughout.
13/22 Cedric Soares – 7 out of 10
His repeated interceptions and clearances stopped a handful of Liverpool moves. He also used possession well from the back.
14/22 Jack Stephens – 5 out of 10
His moment of inanity for the handball was rescued by Forsters excellent save. Aside from that he defended well today.
15/22 Maya Yoshida – 5 out of 10
He was playing very deep, which was allowing the Liverpool to have a lot of space going forward.
16/22 Ryan Bertrand – 6 out of 10
He was crashing into challenges, holding his position well and looked more than capable of maintaining the Liverpool forwards.
17/22 Dusan Tadic – 6 out of 10
He was finding himself in all of the right places, but just lacked service throughout.
18/22 Steven Davis – 6 out of 10
Was highly influential in the Southampton side today and he started a handful of promising moves for the visitors.
19/22 Oriol Romeu – 7 out of 10
His bruising challenge on Origi marked his authority in the early stages of the game. He battled hard and tackled well.
20/22 James Ward-Prowse – 6 out of 10
His deliveries into the area were menacing, but the Saints lacked an aerial threat so his crosses were never converted.
21/22 Sofiane Boufal – 4 out of 10
Aside from the occasional pass, Boufal had no input to the game today. He was constantly marked and did not seem to want the ball.
22/22 Manolo Gabbiadini – 4 out of 10
The striker went missing at times today and he failed to make any real impact when in possession.
"It was a bad injury for him and for us," said Puel.
"Then after Jose Fonte left (for West Ham) it was difficult for us. It's been a good thing to see Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida play together in their place. But for Virgil it was a bad injury.
"Now the surgery is finished he can work normally and be ready for next season - with us.
"He's our captain and I have said he is important for us. He has authority, the leadership of the team, he is a fantastic player.
"It's important for us, of course, to wait until the beginning of the season to see him on the pitch with Southampton.
"He has a long contract and the directors want to keep him."
Puel could welcome back another key player who has also been out with a long-term injury when Saints host Arsenal on Wednesday.
Striker Charlie Austin, still the club's top scorer this season with nine goals, has been absent since December with a shoulder injury.
After playing for Southampton’s U23s on Friday night, the forward could now be in contention to feature against the Gunners.
"It was important to see a game with Charlie," added Puel. "Charlie and Matt Targett played for one hour, they have worked hard in training sessions and we will see if they can participate this season.
"With Charlie, four or five months without a game means the intensity is very difficult. I am happy with his work and we will see if he can play in the next games.
"He has worked very well. We need to see if he can continue this work and get physically fit it will be interesting for him."
Additional reporting by PAReuse content