Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino has revealed wantaway captain Virgil van Dijk will miss his side’s Premier League opener against Swansea City on Saturday (12 August) with a virus and is hoping the Holland international will “change his point of view” over a potential transfer to Liverpool.
Van Dijk, 26, has wanted to leave Hampshire for Merseyside all summer and intensified his efforts to push through a move to Anfield by handing in a transfer request earlier this week. The former Celtic star expressed his discontent at being fined by the Saints and is frustrated that multiple approaches from clubs interested in his services have been rebuffed.
Despite the fuss kicked up by Van Dijk, who still has five years left on his Southampton contract, manager Pellegrino reiterated the club’s stance and pleaded with his coveted defender to drop his desire to play for Liverpool and return to training with the rest of the Saints squad, who will have to make do without him against Swansea.
“My reaction is the same that I said three weeks ago,” Pellegrino was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. “We are expecting him to come back to train with us because we need the player.
“Hopefully he can change his point of view. The club was clear from the beginning with the player. We can’t control every single situation. Virgil is part of our club. He has a contract but we are now waiting.”
Asked if Van Dijk will feature against Swansea, Pellegrino said: “No, no, because this week he was with some trouble with a virus. He couldn’t train the last two days.”
Liverpool were expected to immediately reignite their interest in Van Dijk after his submission of a transfer request, but Jurgen Klopp’s men will not return to the negotiating table until Southampton make it clear that they are open to offers for their skipper, believed to be valued at around £60m.
Liverpool have been involved in a number of transfer sagas this summer, but the club’s owners Fenway Sports Group have attempted to end speculation surrounding the future of Philippe Coutinho by issuing a statement confirming that they will not consider any offers for the Barcelona target.
The Catalonian giants believed a deal for Coutinho was done and were hoping to announce him on Friday, but the brief declaration from FSG has ended any lingering chance of that happening.