Virgil Van Dijk has been seen leaving Southampton’s Staplewood training ground on Thursday, but it won’t be for the last time.
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The 26-year-old Dutchman handed in a transfer request earlier this month to try and force through a move away from Saints and it appears highly unlikely that he will leave St Mary’s in the final hours of the window on Deadline Day.
Pro Soccer Talk understands that there has been “no change” in Southampton’s stance that Virgil van Dijk will not be sold this summer.
With Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and others said to be interested in the classy center back — Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool publicly apologized in June amid reports linking them with a private, unsanctioned meeting with van Dijk and they then subsequently dropped their interest — VVD will now face the prospect of getting his head down and playing for Southampton at least until January.
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If van Dijk — who signed a new six-year deal at Southampton last summer — refuses to return to training with the first team then Saints will also be happy for him to continue to train with the youth team, just as he has been for most of preseason after new manager Mauricio Pellegrino confirmed he was not committed to the team and wanted to leave.
The ball is now in VVD’s court and in a World Cup year where he is sure to be a starter for the Netherlands if they qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia, not playing games would be hugely detrimental for the Dutchman’s career.
In theory if he doesn’t play for Saints then his value may not be impacted too much, especially as he hasn’t kicked a ball since January following a foot injury which ruled him out of the second half of last season.
Van Dijk is the team captain at Saints and even though club captain Steven Davis has suggested he would be welcome back with open arms after his exile to the youth team, it appears that this would be a very tough situation to come back from given VVD’s public condemnation of the club.
For a player of his caliber Southampton will surely make an exception but the next few days, if he doesn’t leave before the deadline, as expected, will be incredibly telling to how this saga will play out over the coming months.
Fans of every other club apart from Liverpool have applauded Saints’ strong stance on van Dijk this summer as “player power” had been spiraling out of control for some time.
With van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool amid the Barcelona interested and even Alexis Sanchez likely staying at Arsenal, it appears clubs are starting to wrestle back some of the power this summer more than most.
Van Dijk’s situation epitomizes the “enough is enough” approach when it comes to transfers and players downing tools when they feel like it.