Van Dijk slaps in transfer request

Southampton skipper Virgil van Dijk has handed in a transfer request, criticising the club for suggesting that he refused to train.

The Dutch centre-back is wanted by a number of Premier League clubs including Chelsea and Manchester City, and has gone on record about his desire to play for Liverpool, who tried hard to sign him earlier in the summer.

However, Liverpool ended their interest in June after Saints said they would report the Anfield club to the Premier League for making an illegal approach.

Last month Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino said that the 26-year-old stopper had been told to train alone.

"It is with regret that I can confirm that I have today handed in a transfer request to leave Southampton,” Van Dijk said in a statement released by his agents.

"I would like Southampton to consider the interest in me from top clubs should it still exist.

"I have been left frustrated by the club's position that I am not for sale and am disappointed that enquiries from multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed.

"I am incredibly ambitious and want to achieve as much as I possibly can to fulfil my potential in what is a very short career as a professional footballer.

"I can confirm that I was asked about my frame of mind and for all of the reasons mentioned above I was open and honest in saying that I did not feel I was in a settled mindset given the circumstances.

"As a proud professional I am insulted by the suggestion that it was me who refused to train and so feel it is important to point out the true version of events."

Van Dijk said he put in the request after finding the club were about to fine him two weeks wages.

"I had very much hoped to retain the good relationship I've always enjoyed with everyone at the club, especially the fans, but unfortunately in light of everything that's happened this has now been seriously affected."

The Saints have said that they are unwilling to sell Van Dijk, who signed an improved six-year contract in May last year.

Van Dijk, who joined Southampton from Celtic in a £13m move in September 2015, missed the last few months of last season with an ankle injury.

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