'Everything is normal' - Southampton manager on how he will handle Virgil van Dijk's return
Virgil van Dijk has returned to training with the Southampton first team and will be available for selection of Mauricio Pellegrino’s team soon after a summer of intense transfer speculation.
Van Dijk handed in a transfer request at Southampton last month as he tried to push through a move to Liverpool, with Chelsea also linked with the Dutch centre-back who was valued at more than £70m.
The player was not training with his Southampton first team colleagues as he attempted to plot a route out of the club, but manager Pellegrino has now confirmed that he is keen to reintegrate Van Dijk back into his plans.
"Now he is training with the team again," said Pellegrino.
"It's good news because now everything is normal.
"I think, obviously, Virgil is coming back from a long period of time and he needs to train and to play games to settle back again, but it's good news for us."
Van Dijk has not played since January after missing the second half of last season due to injury and Pellegrino suggested he will not be available to play in Saturday’s home game against Watford.
Despite the evident animosity between Van Dijk and Southampton officials, Independent.ie have been told that his relationship with Pellegrino and his Southampton team-mates was not affected by his eagerness to leave the club.
Speculation that Van Dijk could be the subject of fresh transfer interest in the Janaury transfer window has already begun, but it is clear that his initial steps back into the Southampton first team have now been taken.