In a new development, Virgil van Dijk has been ordered to train alone after expressing a desire to leave Southampton. Liverpool have been strongly linked with a move for the Dutch international all summer after he rejected interest from Chelsea and Manchester City in favour of a move to Anfield. Liverpool had to apologise for a public pursuit of the defender that involved an illegal approach, but Van Dijk has still been persistently linked with a move despite Liverpool going on record that all interest had ended in the player.
Of course, Liverpool haven't moved on from the talented 26-year-old centre back but probably need an opening to resume talks with Southampton for what will almost certainly be a fee far higher than the £47.5 million paid for John Stones last summer. Mauricio Pellegrino, Southampton's new head coach, revealed that the Premier League's defensive aerial king no longer wants to play for Southampton as his future lies elsewhere.
"He is not involved with the team because psychologically he is not 100%," Pellegrino revealed. "When I was talking with him, the boy said that he is not available to play because he wants to leave.
"I need to work with a player that works at 100% to defend Southampton. This is the decision. I had to say: 'OK, if you don't want to be involved because you don't feel OK, you have to train alone until this period of time.'"
At the start of July, an analysis of a potential transfer indicated that "petty, passive agressive actions" would invariably lead to ultimately pushing hard for a transfer away from the club. The destination? Like Highlander, there can only be one. Southampton will not simply acquiesce to the player's demands just because he wishes to leave, but this has now become a distraction for the club with a record transfer fee for a defender the potential solution.
This is still clearly a delicate transfer to negotiate after all that has happened, but this can only be viewed as a significant development that pushes Van Dijk closer to joining Liverpool. How much closer is difficult to say, but it is hoped that Liverpool will tread carefully and wisely in order to secure what would be a superb signing for the club.