Southampton have reported Liverpool to the Premier League for allegedly tapping-up centre-back Virgil van Dijk.
The 25-year-old has been suggested to have made clear that he favours a move to Anfield, but Southampton say they have received no formal offer.
Liverpool are believed to be ready to pay £60m to prise the Dutch defender away from St. Mary’s, where he still has five years remaining on his contract.
Van Dijk’s supposed preference for a switch to Jurgen Klopp’s side marks a coup for Liverpool, who will also have to fight off interest for his signature.
Yet Saints want the Premier League to investigate whether the Merseyside club have broken rules dictating that clubs may not approach any player contracted to a rival club beyond the end of the current season.
Should Liverpool eventually negotiate a deal for van Dijk, his former club Celtic are entitled to 10 per cent of the fee from Southampton.
Van Dijk has impressed since swapping Scotland for the south coast in a £13m deal in September 2015.
He missed the final five months of last season — including Southampton’s 3-2 loss in the EFL Cup final to Manchester United — after sustaining an ankle injury in January.