Mauricio Pellegrino has confirmed that Virgil van Dijk has asked to leave Southampton this summer in a bid to force through a move to Liverpool.
The towering Dutchman has emerged as the Reds’ prime central defensive target this summer, though Jurgen Klopp’s side were forced into a very public climb down over the defender after Southampton expressed their anger at Liverpool’s public courtship of the player.
But while the player has kept his wishes to join Liverpool out of the media, Van Dijk has now told Southampton he wishes to no longer be considered for selection at St Mary’s.
Explaining Van Dijk’s wishes, and Southampton’s stance, Pellegrino told the Southern Daily Echo: “The boy said that he is not available to play because he wants to leave. This is the decision.
“I had to say ‘if you don’t want to be involved because you don’t feel OK then you have to train alone until this period of time happens’.
“My relationship with Virgil is excellent. I was clear with the boy, and I was talking from the first day with him.
“The club was clear. The club told me they will not sell Virgil.
“I translated the idea of the club to the player and for me it was easy because I had to manage the dynamic of the team.
“Now he is not involved with the team because psychologically he is not 100 per cent.
“If you are not 100 percent with the team I need to work with the players who are 100 percent to defend Southampton. It’s easy for me.”
Saints are understood to value Van Dijk in the £60m mark, but Liverpool’s desire to land the player could see the fee top £65m – £70m should the Reds eventually land their man.