Virgil van Dijk and Liverpool will NOT bully Southampton into selling the defender to the Merseysiders, a club source has revealed.
And, we understand, the centre-back will more likely be sold to Chelsea or Manchester City – for a world record fee for a defender.
Yahoo Sport have been told that an offer in excess of £70m may tempt Southampton to complete a deal with Chelsea if the Premier League champions are prepared to break their transfer record to bolster their defensive line, but the club are still hopeful of keeping van Dijk for one more year at least despite the ill-feeling created by his actions in recent months.
Saints officials are convinced that they can get van Dijk focused to play for their club once the transfer window closes, with manager Mauricio Pellegrino re-iterating the club’s stance following a 0-0 draw n Saturday’s opening Premier League game against Swansea.
“Virgil is part of the squad and I can’t talk about something that right now is something I can’t manage as a manager,” said Pellegrino.
“Hopefully, I repeat again, we are waiting him to train with the team and to be part of the team again. I think all of us, the technical director, me as a manager, we know that Virgil is an important part of the club but we need him in another way.”
Dutch defender van Dijk handed in a transfer request last week and confirmed once more that he wanted to complete a big money move to Liverpool, yet Southampton have yet to receive any offer for their unsettled 26-year-old that comes close to their valuation.
We understand that Southampton chiefs may have been open to a deal to sell van Dijk earlier this summer if the player and his agent had conducted their business in a different manner earlier this year.
If van Dijk had expressed a desire to leave Southampton and agreed that he would remain as part of the Saints’ set-up until an acceptable offer was received, we have been told he may well have been a Liverpool player by now.
Instead, he finds himself training with Southampton’s youth team players and may face an uncomfortable climb down if his club stand by their word and refuse to sell him in this transfer window.
Liverpool were forced to issue an apology to Southampton following their unsolicited talks with the player and his agent and the ill-feeling from that episode remains, with Southampton firm in their stance that van Dijk will not be sold to Liverpool in this transfer window.
Southampton are determined to make a stance in their eagerness to hang on to van Dijk, yet this latest leak suggests a deal could yet be possible for the player if the price is right.
While is increasingly evident that Liverpool may struggle to force through a deal for their chief transfer target, Chelsea and Manchester City may receive encouragement if they are willing to pay the lavish asking price that will be demanded.