Southampton are ready to go to war with Liverpool over their interest in Virgil van Dijk after asking the Premier League to investigate an alleged illegal approach for the player.
The Reds have been tracking the player all summer and reports on Monday suggested the Dutchman had opted for a move to Anfield after Liverpool raised the financial offer to the centre-half.
But Southampton have always insisted the defender would not be allowed to leave and Saints have now reported Liverpool to the FA amid an accusation of an illegal approach for the former Celtic star.
The South coast club, who have seen the likes of Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren and Sadio Mane all make the move to Anfield in recent years, are understood to be ‘seething’ at the public nature of the chase – and the Daily Echo report an investigation has been asked for.
According to the report, the hierarchy at St Mary’s believe an illegal approach has been made, with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp cited as one of the main reasons behind van Dijk’s defining reasons to join the Reds.
The paper further speculates that “the furore is also believed to have redoubled Saints’ determination to keep van Dijk, and rule out the possibility of selling the Dutch defender to Liverpool.”
Whatever the outcome, Saints are determined to dig in their heels over the defender and keep the Dutchman out of Liverpool’s grasp.
Just last month, Saints chairman Ralph Kruger insisted they had no need to sell the Dutchman, saying:
“We will decide if anybody goes and we will decide who comes in, in the best interests of the club.
“We do not need to sell any player for the first time since I’ve been here.
“I can make that statement and – unless football decides it’s in the best interests – we don’t need to do that.
“I think that we’re moving into a new era at Southampton Football Club after three-and-a-half years of building this foundation of depth, where we have more than 25 players that can play a Premier League game.”
Asked if Saints could realistically turned down a £60million bid for him this summer, Krueger said: “Can we? Yes.
“The big thing is here again I want to underline the strategy, less the detail.
“You know I really respect our lead in football, Les Reed is doing an excellent job, and Ross Wilson has taken on a big role assisting Les and leading our football-specific decisions.
“They will continue next week once they’ve analysed the season and really de-brief completely, they will make then the football decision we need to make.
“I’ll tell you again, we do not need to sell anybody.”