Virgil van Dijk wants Liverpool move after Southampton split
'Ambitious' Dutch defender hands in transfer request and accuses Saints of besmirching his name
Virgil van Dijk has handed in a transfer request at Southampton and the Daily Express says that's enough for Liverpool "to revive their £60m move" for the Dutch defender.
The Reds first courted the 26-year-old Netherlands centre-back in May but were quickly warned off by the Saints, who threatened to report their Premier League rivals to Uefa if they didn't pipe down. But evidently the interest from Liverpool has turned Van Dijk's head and on Monday he demanded to leave the south-coast club.
"It is with regret that I can confirm that I have today handed in a transfer request to leave Southampton," he said in a statement. "Over the past six months I have held numerous discussions with representatives of the board, the former manager Claude Puel as well as the new manager Mauricio Pellegrino to inform them all of my desire to leave the club in search of a new challenge.
"I am incredibly ambitious and want to achieve as much as I possibly can to fulfil my potential in what is a very short career as a professional footballer. I want to play European football again and challenge for major honours and, as such, I would like Southampton to consider the interest in me from top clubs should it still exist."
Accusing Southampton officials of leaking private conversations to the media, Van Dijk angrily denied claims that he had gone on strike. "As a proud professional I am insulted by the suggestion that it was me who refused to train and so feel it is important to point out the true version of events.
"I had very much hoped to retain the good relationship I've always enjoyed with everyone at the club, especially the fans, but unfortunately in light of everything that's happened this has now been seriously affected....the time for me to move on is now and I hope to be able to work with the club to find the best resolution to suit all parties."
Liverpool remain keen to sign van Dijk but the Express says that Chelsea are also considering a move although the Dutch defender "is understood to prefer a move to Anfield".
Meanwhile The Guardian reports that the Reds are steadfast in their refusal to listen to overtures from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho despite claims they "are prepared to pay £100m for the Brazil international".
The Spaniards tabled a £72m offer for the 25-year-old last month, which was swiftly kicked into the long grass by Liverpool, but Barca are poised to come back with a bigger offer having made £200m from the sale of Neymar to PSG. But according to the Guardian, Liverpool remain unwavering in their determination to keep hold of Coutinho, despite "reports in Spain claiming Barcelona hope to conclude a deal by Tuesday".