Southampton centre-back Van Dijk hands in transfer request
(Reuters) - Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk confirmed on Monday that he had handed in a transfer request and expressed disappointment at the Premier League club's refusal to listen to offers for him.
The highly rated Dutch international is wanted by several Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, who were forced to make a public apology after being accused of making an illegal approach for the player earlier in the transfer window.
Van Dijk, who is also a target for Chelsea, said he handed in the request after being informed by Southampton that he would be fined two weeks wages.
"I will be appealing what I feel to be an unjustified sanction and their inability to follow the correct disciplinary protocol in due course," he said in a statement.
The 26-year-old added that he had held a number of discussions with former manager Claude Puel, representatives of the board and current boss Mauricio Pellegrino over the past six months where he had informed them of his desire to leave.
Adding that he had been left "frustrated" by Southampton's refusal to entertain offers for him, Van Dijk said being injured towards the end of last season had given him fresh perspective on where his future lay.
"The period of time that I have just spent injured and unable to play has put a number of things into perspective and made me realise just how important it is to take major opportunities should they arise," he said.
"I have consistently 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."
Van Dijk was told to train away from the team by Pellegrino and left out of Southampton's training camp in France, but denied he had refused to train to force through a move.
"I can confirm that I was asked about my frame of mind and... I was open and honest in saying I that I did not feel I was in a settled mindset given the circumstances," he said.
"Following this conversation the manager... told me I would therefore have to train away from the first team."
Van Dijk said he was "insulted" by the suggestion that he had refused to train, adding that his relationship with the club and its fans had 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," he said.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Gareth Jones)