Confirming late last week that want-away defender and club captain Virgil van Dijk is training alone, Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino told the Dutchman’s many suitors exactly what they wanted to hear by making public his desire to leave the South Coast club.
“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 as Van Dijk continues to sit out the Saints pre-season friendlies. “The boy said that he is not available to play because he wants to leave. This is the decision.”
Unless he has a change of heart, the highly coveted defender will almost certainly be leaving this summer despite the fact that the South Coast outfit continue to insist that he’s not for sale. It’s believed that Van Dijk has made his preference for a move to Anfield known, but the Southampton hierarcy are reportedly loathe to allow him to follow that familiar path to the North West with Saints alumni Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren and most recently Sadio Mane all currently occupying spots in Liverpool’s first team. The Reds, for their part, remain keen on the Dutchman’s services and are prepared to shatter their transfer record once again to draft him in to the squad — though they’ll wait for the Saints to welcome bids before making their move.
After narrowly avoiding a tapping up charge after being reported for an “illegal approach”, the club publicly withdrew their interest in the 26-year old and issued a humbling apology. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been pressed on the issue on numerous occasions, but the German manager has remained coy over any lingering interest in Van Dijk knowing full well that any and all comments will be under the microscope.
More on this as it develops…