LONDON - Virgil Van Dijk has accused Southampton of playing games with his future as he handed in a transfer request.
The Dutch international’s future has been a running saga of the transfer window, and the situation has now exploded as Van Dijk urged Southampton to let him leave the club.
Liverpool is his preferred destination, but they are not the only club who want him with Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal all admirers of the defender.
Southampton made Van Dijk train alone two weeks ago and left him out of their squad that toured France, after new boss Mauricio Pellegrino revealed the defender had told him he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play.
Van Dijk was fined two weeks’ wages for not making himself available for selection for the club’s friendlies and has made it clear he is more than ever determined to leave.
In a statement, the 26-year-old said: "It is with regret that I can confirm I have today handed in a transfer request to leave Southampton. Unfortunately I feel I have no alternative after I was given notice of the club’s intention to impose a disciplinary sanction against me of a fine equivalent to 2 weeks wages.
"I will be appealing what I feel to be an unjustified sanction and their inability to follow the correct disciplinary protocol. I have relayed my feelings to senior management at Southampton in what I believed to be private and personal conversations.
"Disappointingly, these conversations have regularly found their way into the media. I have been left frustrated by the club’s position that I am not for sale and am disappointed that enquiries from multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed."
Liverpool were forced to apologise and issued a statement on June 6 stating that they had withdrawn interest in the defender, after being accused by Southampton of making an illegal approach.
Nothing, though, has changed for Jurgen Klopp, who still wants to land Van Dijk. But it remains to be seen whether Southampton would consider dealing with Liverpool or, for that matter, whether they will even give in to the player.
Sportsmail understands that Southampton’s stance remains that Van Dijk is not for sale and they will likely reject his request.
Yet the reality is different with Van Dijk’s blistering criticism likely to mean the end of his time at St Mary’s, with a raft of clubs at home and abroad eager to sign him.