Liverpool apologise to Southampton over Virgil van Dijk pursuit and drop interest in centre-back

Joe Hall
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Norwich City v Southampton - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Woah, woah, woah: Liverpool have dropped their interest in Van Dijk (Source: Getty)

Liverpool last night apologised to fellow Premier League side Southampton "for any misunderstanding" over their pursuit of centre-back Virgil van Dijk.

The former Celtic defender had been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool, a path well trodden in recent years from St Mary's, but the Merseysiders have now ended their interest in any deal.

Earlier this week, Southampton had reported Jurgen Klopp's side to the Premier League for allegedly tapping up Van Dijk.

In a statement Liverpool apologised to the player and his club over their approach, which came to light following media reports that the Dutchman favoured a move to Anfield.

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"Liverpool Football Club would like to put on record our regret over recent media speculation regarding Southampton Football Club and player transfers between the two clubs," said the club.

"We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk.

"We respect Southampton's position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player."

In April Liverpool were banned from signing any academy players for two years and fined £100,000 after being found guilty of illegally offering an inducement to an 11-year-old who was with Stoke City at the time.

The Reds had offered to pay the child's private school fees, a breach of Premier League rules that prohibit clubs encouraging to sign by making such offers.

Southampton had reported Liverpool to the Premier League in order to prompt an investigation into whether they had broken rules dictating that clubs may not approach any player contracted to a rival club beyond the end of the current season.

Van Dijk, who has five years remaining on his Saints contract, 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.