Date: 8th June 2017 at 8:20am
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Virgil van Dijk will not be heading to Anfield after Liverpool issue a dramatic apology for their conduct to Southampton…

Just 48 hours on from being identified as firm favourites to land Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool FC have publicly declared themselves out of the running.

The unprecedented step follows moves from the Saints to report Liverpool for an illegal approach after the player apparently declared Anfield his preferred destination over Chelsea and Manchester City due in part to overtures from Kop boss J├╝rgen Klopp.

Such an occurrence, despite being common practice, is illegal unless full written permission of the selling club is received or if the player in question is out of contract.

With Liverpool already serving a two-year transfer ban at Academy level after being found guilty of tapping-up a schoolboy, possible sanctions at senior level therefore appear to have forced their hand.

The statement they released on Wednesday evening, via the official LFC website, read: “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.

“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.”

The Telegraph subsequently report that although Southampton’s complaint currently remains active the Premier League may now decide not to investigate further due to Liverpool’s ‘humiliating climbdown’.

The club’s actions may have appeased the authorities and Southampton but it won’t go down too well with many supporters who will see the whole incident as further proof that the Reds lag behind their rivals when it comes to completing key transfers.

Any move for van Dijk this summer is likely to set a new world record fee for a defender, which currently stands at £50million.

Vital Comment
What a shambles! To avoid punishment Liverpool have seemingly elected to embroil themselves in a PR disaster instead. Although an understandable course of action in many regards the whole mess could easily have a detrimental effect on future decisions and negotiations etc. Beyond that it also means the club will miss out on their top transfer target and through no fault of anyone but themselves. Regardless of the widespread practice of talking to players via agents and intermediaries, you have to be discreet and appear to do everything by the book. If the initial leak concerning the club’s efforts to acquire van Dijk came from within, then the person responsible needs to be held to account.

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