Reds drop van Dijk interest, issue apology

LONDON • Netherlands international defender Virgil van Dijk will not play for Liverpool next season after the Premier League giants apologised to Southampton on Wednesday and said they had ended their interest in him.

Liverpool's announcement came in the wake of media reports that they were prepared to pay £60 million (S$107 million) for van Dijk.

However, following those reports on Tuesday, Southampton asked the Premier League to look into the matter as to whether there had been an illegal approach for the 25-year-old.

The Reds' statement on Wednesday dealt a blow to manager Jurgen Klopp, who according to The Sun newspaper had persuaded the board to meet van Dijk's wage demands of around £200,000 a week.

"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," read the 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."

The Premier League had written to both clubs on Tuesday to ask for their version of events with a view to deciding whether to launch an investigation, and it is unclear, at this stage, whether Liverpool's apology will bring an end to it.

If both clubs agree that the matter is closed, it is unlikely that the league would take it further.

Van Dijk - who joined Southampton in 2015 from Scottish champions Celtic - was apparently keen to move to Anfield not only for Champions League football, but also because his friend and compatriot Georginio Wijnaldum is there.

However, it was reported that van Dijk met Klopp in Blackpool to discuss the proposed transfer - which would have been in breach of the Premier League's rules on "tapping up" rather than going through with a formal enquiry.

The Saints have become a favoured hunting ground for Liverpool in the past three years having signed five players - including Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane - for a total of almost £100 million.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline 'Reds drop van Dijk interest, issue apology'. Print Edition | Subscribe