Southampton claim they would rather let Virgil van Dijk “sit in the stands” than let the defender join Liverpool this summer.
That’s according to the Daily Express, who quote a ‘club insider’ who says Saints will do all in their power to keep the Dutchman out of Liverpool’s clutches this summer.
The Reds were forced into a very public climbdown in their pursuit for Van Dijk earlier this summer, but their interest in the player is thought to remain amid talk of a fresh £60million approach.
But Southampton’s refusal to sell has prompted the player to submit a transfer request after he told the Saints he felt ‘insulted’ by their decision to reject all offers for him.
However, Saints are still fuming with Liverpool for tapping up their skipper and are determined not to do business with the Merseysiders even if it means missing out on a huge pay-day.
They are also conscious of not being made to look weak in the eyes of their supporters by being bullied into a deal with the Reds.
A club insider said: “We do not want to sell Virgil to Liverpool and will happily let him sit in the stands all season if we have to.
“Most of the fans would back the club in this after everything that has gone on.”
However, with the player very much at odds with the club and now subject of abuse from supporters, it seems highly unlikely he will ever pull on a Saints shirt again.
But that’s not to say the sale of the player won’t happen and it’s reported the club could allow him to join one of his other suitors, of which, Chelsea and Arsenal are also keen.
And a move to Chelsea appears most viable with Blues boss Antonio Conte a confirmed admirer of the player and also admitting recently he is keen to add defensive reinforcements this summer.
Arsenal also remain keen but appear reluctant to meet Saints’ £60m valuation – a fee they feel he’s worth due to the current market and the fact Van Dijk only signed a new six-year deal last summer.
That will likely leave Van Dijk with little option but to sign for Chelsea, if Saints’ refusal to discuss a deal with Liverpool comes to fruition.