Liverpool have received a massive boost today in their pursuit of Southampton star defender Virgil van Dijk, with the 26-year-old Dutch international handing in a transfer request. This came immediately following news that Southampton intended to fine the player if he did not return to training with his teammates.
In recent weeks, Van Dijk had been training alone following a falling-out with Saints’ management as he angled for a move away from the club. Multiple attempts to reintegrate him into the squad had been made by manager Mauricio Pellegrino but all were rejected by Van Dijk, who remained firm in his desire to leave the club.
Today, having grown tired of trying to convince him to commit to the club for the coming season, the club took the unusual step of threatening to fine the player two weeks wages. Van Dijk’s response was to submit a formal transfer request. A formal Liverpool bid for the player could follow in short order.
“I feel I have no alternative after I was given notice of the club’s intention to impose a disciplinary sanction against me,” read a statement from the player. “Over the past six months I have held numerous discussions with representatives of the board to inform them of my desire to leave the club in search of a new challenge.
“I want to play European football again and challenge for major honours and as such I would like Southampton to consider the interest in me from top clubs. I have been left frustrated by the club's position that I am not for sale and am disappointed that enquiries from multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed.”
Van Dijk further insisted that the decision to train alone was not one that he undertook of his own accord, but that instead the club had pushed him towards it, and their attempts to cast it as his own decision in the press is cited as another reason he believes remaining at the club is no longer a possibility.
“I would also like to make clear that I have never once refused to train,” he noted. “I can confirm that I was asked about my frame of mind and for all of the reasons mentioned above I was open and honest in saying that I did not feel I was in a settled mindset given the circumstances.
“Following this the manager explained he only wanted players who he felt were 100% committed and told me I would therefore have to train away from the first team. As a proud professional I am insulted by the suggestion that it was me who refused to train and so feel it is important to point out the true version of events.”