Virgil van Dijk hints at Southampton exit in January
Holland defender Virgil van Dijk admits he could look at a move away from Southampton when the transfer window opens again in January.
Van Dijk has now been reintegrated into the first-team picture at St Mary's having been training with the development squad after handing in a transfer request at the start of August.
The Dutchman had made it clear he wanted the club to take up the interest from Liverpool, who issued a public apology in June following suggestions of an improper approach for the centre-back.
Van Dijk, though, played in the Premier League matches against Crystal Palace and Stoke before the international break, appearing to now be back in Mauricio Pellegrino's plans.
Despite the apparent reconciliation, the 26-year-old revealed during his preparation for the Oranje's crunch World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Group A rivals Sweden that he may yet review the situation at the turn of the year.
Speaking in an interview with Fox Sports in the Netherlands, Van Dijk said: "I am glad I am fit again and I can give 100 per cent.
"I am not sorry for anything (which happened). Of course, I wanted to make a step up, but Southampton did not want to sell me, but you're a professional, so now I will give everything to the club.
"Halfway through the season, maybe we can see what is possible."
Van Dijk joined Southampton from Celtic in September 2015 and, at the end of his first season, penned a six-year contract which runs until 2022.
Pellegrino hopes for Van Dijk U-turn over decision to leave Southampton
Mauricio Pellegrino has insisted Southampton will keep trying to persuade Virgil Van Dijk to stay at St Mary's.
Saints' new boss has stressed the club still expect wantaway defender Van Dijk to feature this term, although he will miss Saturday's Premier League opener against Swansea due to a virus.
Dutch defender Van Dijk has submitted a transfer request amid persistent interest from Liverpool, but manager Pellegrino remains adamant Saints will not give up on the former Celtic star.
Van Dijk appears set on forcing a move however, and Pellegrino admitted there could come a point where Southampton may not be able to alter the 26-year-old's stance.
"My reaction is the same that I said three weeks ago: we are expecting him (Van Dijk) to come back, to train with us because we need the players, we need all of them," said the manager.
"Hopefully he can change his point of view. Virgil is an important player and we need him focused on our club."
Asked if Southampton can genuinely retain an unhappy player, Pellegrino said: "But the club was clear from the beginning with the player.
"We can't control every single situation. We can decide our dynamic in this group and Virgil is part of our group; he has a contract.
"He has spoken with (executive director) Les Reed. We've spoken with the player but not too much, a couple of meetings.
"I was clear, the club was clear, he was clear on his position. But we have to keep going because I can't control the thinking or the feeling of the player."
When quizzed on whether Van Dijk would be available for selection this weekend, Pellegrino added: "No, no. Because this week he was with some trouble with a virus and he couldn't train the last two days."
Pellegrino confirmed Saints will continue to chase more new recruits during the transfer window.
Club record signing Mario Lemina could make his competitive debut against Swansea at St Mary's on Saturday, with fellow new arrival Jan Bednarek also in the mix to feature.
Confirming his desire to make further signings, Pellegrino said: "Yes, there are certain positions where we would like to add strength. But we never know because the market is difficult. It's not easy for us.
"For me with Mario (Lemina) it's a mix. He's a defensive midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder and he has quality, strength in the middle. We didn't have this profile of player I think.
"Physically Mario's good, he's been training at Juventus.
"Jan (Bednarek) is a young player that I think has the capability to adapt to the Premier League. And Mario is a player that is coming from one of the biggest clubs in the world.
"We are happy with that. Both of them can help us to be stronger."
Van Dijk deal close and more to come
Liverpool's signing of Virgil van Dijk is close and there will be more new faces to follow, says former Red Danny Murphy.
After having been warned off the 26-year-old defender by Southampton, Jurgen Klopp now looks set to seal the deal, following reports that the player has demanded a move to Anfield.
“Personally, the problem for Liverpool was more defensive,” Murphy told Sport 360. “I think the van Dijk thing is close. That would be a phenomenal signing, but there's definitely more business to be done at Anfield.
“My understanding is that they are really trying to push the boat out in bringing new players in to try and compete.
“I suppose the other question is do they need a striker who can get 20 goals a season. Maybe they'll look there as well, we'll have to wait and see.”
The Great Game - Liverpool say sorry!
You could write a book or even a film about this - oh wait they did in 1953. A comedy no less called the 'The Great Game' starring Thora Hird, Diana Dors, and a cameo role for Tommy Lawton, who made 87 appearances for Everton scoring 65 goals!
The film portrays a chairman of a top-flight English football club who makes an illegal approach to a rising star of a rival club. This being discovered by the football authorities, with the Chairman ultimately suspended from the game following the scandal.
Fast forward 64 years and you have another Merseyside club trying again, attempting to lure Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton without first contacting the club.
It's not the first time Liverpool have been in deep water over 'tapping up' allegations. Liverpool were facing legal action from a schoolboy footballer earlier this year after being banned from signing academy players for at least a year and fined £100,000 for tapping him up and offering him and his family forbidden inducements. The Premier League punished Liverpool after they admitted making an illegal approach to the youngster.
It seems they haven't learnt!
Yesterday they released a statement apologising for the approach, directly to Southampton's board in what can only be assumed a damage limitation exercise.
Southampton having already registered a complaint with the Premier League, will want to see some sort of action, whilst Liverpool will be hoping that the Premier League see that the two sides have communicated and settled their differences. I am doubting the latter will happen given Liverpool's history with Southampton players and their previous conduct.
In the 1953 film the chairman is suspended from any football activities. In today's game I expect Southampton will want to see some sort of ban. If this does indeed happen, Klopp is going to rue all those private text messages with Van Dijk and see his transfer window disappear in a vapour cloud, and he will have to try to achieve the impossible with the same squad.
Chelsea will be wanting some retribution for their ban in 2009 for signing Kakuta from Lens. Whilst they completed the transfer, its hard to see that Liverpool would have refrained from signing Van Dijk if they had not been found out!
"Chelsea are banned from registering any new players, either nationally or internationally, for the next two entire and consecutive registration periods,"
The player was also banned for 4 months. Previously they were fined £300,000 for 'tapping up' Ashley Cole from Arsenal, so their previous landed them with a two year transfer ban. Its hard to imagine that Liverpool can hope to escape any sort of retribution from the powers that be, given they have already been warned and dealt with earlier this year!
With the owner John Henry having to step in recognising the seriousness of it all, one has to have a deep look at some of the staff responsible for new players at the club. Maybe a cabinet shuffle is in the offing, I mean they couldn't have timed that more perfectly as newsworthy.
With the interest severed for Van Dijk, Southampton must have had a split second 'sigh of relief' before the gates will have opened for proper tabled bids from the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. With valuations in the region of £50m - £75m, Van Dijk will need to consider his future carefully. He is the Captain of his club on a 5 year contract. He is potentially facing a new manager with the likes of Tuchel in the frame, who plays his style of football. Does he stay for another year, see where it all goes, and then leap across the water to Real or Barcelona for £100m, or jump into bed with a club that was not his list?
Whatever happens Southampton have to be applauded for saying 'enough is enough' and standing firm. They were becoming the laughing-stock on Merseyside for the mass selling of their players and now the boot is on the other foot, and Klopp must now be pulling at his shirt collar waiting for a response from the powers that be as to their future in the transfer market.