On Thursday it was Barcelona making a play for Liverpool talisman Philippe Coutinho and early Friday everyone was talking Andy Robertson moving from Hull City, but that’s all but forgotten with Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino confirming Reds top target Virgil van Dijk is training alone is training alone and that he wants to leave the South Coast side.
“I communicate the idea of the club to the players and for me it was easy [to tell Van Dijk to train alone] because I had to manage the dynamic of the team,” said the Argentinian manager. “Now he is not involved with the team because psychologically he is not 100 per cent,” continued Pellegrino, hinting that the Dutchman will be on the outs until things change. “If you are not 100 per cent with the team I need to work with the players who are 100 per cent to defend Southampton. It’s easy for me.”
Liverpool, of course, have to tread lightly when it comes to Van Dijk. Reported to the Premier League over an illegal approach and only narrowly avoiding a tapping up charge, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has been tight lipped when it comes to any further approach for the Saints captain. Although he’s made his preference for Anfield clear, there’s been no indication from the Saints side that they’re prepared to let him make the move to the North West — instead, they’re holding out hope that he’ll change his mind and get on board at St. Mary’s Stadium.
“The boy said that he is not available to play because he wants to leave. This is the decision,” confirmed Pellegrino, knowing full well that Van Dijk won’t be participating in any friendlies until he gets his head right. “I had to say, ‘If you don’t want to be involved because you don’t feel okay then you have to train alone until this period of time is over’. I hope that Virgil can review his feelings because you know that today a player is big business,” added the Southampton coach. “Not just the player but behind them is a lot of interests.”