'Badly advised' Virgil van Dijk may have ruined his chances of a dream move to Liverpool
Southampton are ‘more determined than ever’ to hang on to defender Virgil van Dijk despite his insistence that he wants to leave the club to join Liverpool this summer, Independent.ie understands.
With Van Dijk training alone and not taking part in Southampton’s pre-season matches, club insiders have hinted that the 26-year-old has been ‘badly advised’ by his agent in recent months and suggested that a move to Liverpool could have been finalised if the player had handled his desire to leave in a different manner.
Van Dijk re-affirmed his stance that he has set his heart on a move to Liverpool in meetings with club officials in the last 24 hours, even though Southampton have yet to receive a firm cash offer for the Dutch defender from the Anfield club.
This has been Van Dijk's stance since the middle of May, when he told senior Southampton staff that he wanted to leave.
That was before the club were made aware that he had already held 'extensive' talks with Liverpool over what the player, his agent and Anfield officials hoped would become a £50m summer move.
Yet Southampton have remained firm throughout this summer that they would not sanction a deal for Van Dijk to leave for Liverpool, just a year after he signed a new six-year contract with the club that gave him a chance to make his name in the Premier League.
Liverpool were forced to issue an apology to Southampton in June after their unsolicited approaches for Van Dijk became public and stated they would make no further moves for the Dutch defender unless they were given the green light by Saints officials.
However, Southampton officials have reconfirmed to Van Dijk and his agent that they will not sell him in this transfer window and seem to be determined to make a stand over what they now see as a ‘crucial moment’ in their club’s short term future.
Saints officials are concerned that if Van Dijk succeeds in forcing through a move to Liverpool by using the bullish tactics he has deployed in recent days, players wishing to leave the club in the future could make similar moves to force through a transfer.
Van Dijk’s value has soared in a summer that has seen defenders transferred for huge sums of money across Europe, with the £70m price tag that was placed on the Dutchman in some quarters earlier this summer now needing to be revised.
For now, it appears Southampton and Van Dijk are involved in a stand-off that shows no sign of ending, with new Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino eager to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.