Virgil van Dijk’s transfer request has not changed Southampton’s intention to keep the player, says Mauricio Pellegrino.
Liverpool heavily pursued a deal for Van Dijk at the start of the summer transfer window but were forced to drop their interest after Southampton reported them to the Premier League for an alleged illegal approach.
Sky Sports News understands Chelsea and Manchester City are also interested in the defender, who signed a new long-term contract last year.
However, despite Van Dijk criticising the club’s attitude towards his determination to leave earlier this week, Pellegrino insists the club’s stance has not changed.
“My reaction is the same,” said Pellegrino. “But I said three weeks ago we are expecting him to come back to train with us because we need the player, we need all of them. Hopefully he can change his point of view because he is an important player and we need him focused on the club.
“The club was clear from the beginning with the player. We cannot control every situation. Virgil is part of the club, he has a contract, now we are waiting.”
Southampton face Swansea in their Premier League opener on Saturday, but Pellegrino – who will oversee his first game in the English top flight – will not be able to call upon Van Dijk, who has not been training with the first-team squad.
Asked if Van Dijk will play any part, Pellegrino said: “No because this week he was with some trouble with a virus and he couldn’t train the last two days.
“I spoke with the player last week, but not too much. The club was clear, I was clear, and the player, but we have to keep going because I cannot control the feeling of the player in that moment.”
Southampton this week completed the signing of midfielder Mario Lemina from Juventus on a five-year contract for a club record fee, understood potentially rise to £20m, while centre-back Jan Bednarek has also joined from Polish side Lech Poznan.
Pellegrino believes the acquisitions represent a rise in the profile of signings Southampton are able to bring in.
“Jan is a young player that I think has the capability to adapt to the Premier League,” said Pellegrino. “He has worked very hard from the beginning.
“Lemina is a player who is coming from one of the biggest clubs in the world. We are happy with that. Both can help us become stronger because we don’t have those kinds of profile players in our squad.”Euro Soccer Bonus
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