Liverpool have issued an official apology to Southampton and have agreed to end their pursuit for defender Virgil van Dijk, reports the Telegraph. The Reds were forced into the U-turn after Southampton complained over an illegal approach being made by the Merseysiders.
“Liverpool Football Club would like to put on record our regret over recent media speculation regarding Southampton Football Club and player transfers between the two clubs,” said an official statement.
“We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk.
“We respect Southampton’s position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player.”
Reports were linking Van Dijk to Liverpool, suggesting the Reds were being preferred by the Dutchman over the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, despite Southampton insisting no formal approach has been made.
The centre-back was also rumoured to be keen to work with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and was set to sign a deal worth £180,000 – something that worried the Saints given they had no indication talks between two parties were at such an advanced stage.
Reports broke on Wednesday that Van Dijk met with Klopp in Blackpool and was in regular contact with the manager, something Liverpool declined to comment on. The Merseysiders were eventually forced to issue the statement and give up on a player they saw central to their plans to bolster the backline.
As per Premier League law: “No club official or intermediary can make a direct or indirect approach to a player unless he is either out of contract or they have written consent from the selling club.”
Liverpool now seem out of the running to sign the 25-year-old, meaning the likes of Chelsea, City and Arsenal are back in the running for his signature. Southampton are keen to keep the defender, however, so they’re sure to put up some resistance.
The Reds will have to turn their attentions elsewhere as it’s unlikely Southampton will want to do business with them any more, despite so many deals being completed between the two in the past.