Southampton boss admits defender wants to leave club
Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrini has revealed that club-captain Virgil van Dijk is training alone from his teammates as he looks to push through a move to Liverpool this summer.
The Netherlands international took over the captain’s armband following Jose Fonte’s exit to West Ham United in January, and he has since spent time on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Van Dijk has, however, returned to full fitness ahead of next month’s league campaign, and Pellegrino admits that the player would have to chance his stance with the club’s hierarchy insisting that he won’t be sold this summer. Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren and Sadio Mane have become huge hits after swapping St. Mary’s for Anfield, but such an occurrence does not look like happening this summer with the Saints having previously lodged a complaint Liverpool for tapping up their defender.
Liverpool have since released an official statement citing that their pursuit of Van Dijk is well and over for the summer, but this has not discouraged the player, who is looking to force his way out of Southampton.
Speaking to BBC Radio, Pellegrino admitted that Van Dijk would take no part in their pre-season plans as he is not 100 percent committed to the club. Despite this, the relationship remains excellent between the pair, and Pellegrino expects the centre-back to review his decision.
He said: “He is not involved with the team because psychologically he is not 100%. 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.”
Southampton start their Premier League campaign against Swansea City at home next month, and Pellegrino will hope to have the player back in the right frame of mind in order to make an instant impression in his maiden season in English management.