Liverpool have seemingly been handed a major boost in their quest to sign Southampton's Virgil van Dyke this summer as the centre-back has reportedly been banished to train alone after informing the Saints that he wants to quit the club this summer.
The 26-year-old is said to no longer be involved in any pre-season preparations for Mauricio Pellegrino's side after telling the manager, he is 'not available to play because he wants to leave.'
The Southern Daily Echo have confirmed that Pellegrino has made the decision to remove van Dijk from his squad as he has revealed the centre-back is set to train alone at Staplewood next week whilst the rest of the squad travels to France.
Pellegrino has insisted that van Dijk has been informed that the Saints position is not to sell him this summer, in the hope that the 26-year-old will re-evaluate his position.
The Saints boss said: “The boy said that he is not available to play because he wants to leave. This is the decision. I had to say 'if you don’t want to be involved because you don’t feel OK then you have to train alone until this period of time happens'."
He added: “My relationship with Virgil is excellent. I was clear with the boy, and I was talking from the first day with him. The club was clear. The club told me they will not sell Virgil.
“I translated the idea of the club to the player and for me it was easy because I had to manage the dynamic of the team.
“Now he is not involved with the team because psychologically he is not 100 per cent. If you are not 100 per cent with the team I need to work with the players who are 1000 per cent to defend Southampton. It’s easy for me.
After singing a six-year deal last summer - making him the club's highest paid player in history - Southampton are seeking a return in their loyalty, especially considering Liverpool were warned off the defender when accused of tapping him up.
But with his head now seemingly anywhere but St Mary's, it has left Southampton in a tricky position. Pellegrino added: “I hope that Virgil can review his feelings because you know that today a player is big business. Not just the player but behind them is a lot of interests.
“I don’t want to say too much but we need the player, but 100 per cent. This is the question.
If the Dutch international maintains his stance however the saga could drag on, and when asked how long he expected the situation to last, he said: “I don’t know. I know I need all the players. I need the 25 players, I need Virgil to be involved in the dynamic every day and to be prepared to play
“When you sign a contract you are part of the team, because anyone can play your own game. It’s something we have to know from the beginning.
“The club was clear and for me it was easy, but I am responsible for the dynamic of the team. The group support this dynamic because we are respecting everybody, but we have to respect the club because that it is more important than any person.
He continued: “I believe the team needs important players to be stronger but there is no player more important than all the rest. This is clear for me.
“I believe any of us is not more important than the team, and this is crucial. The team needs important players, but important players need the team more than the other.”