Under-fire Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino addressed Van Dijk’s situation, and from the sounds of it, the club is resigned to selling its star defender.
“I decided it’s best for the team and there has been a lot speculation,” Pellegrino said of his decision to bench the player, according to the Telegraph.
“The manager decides what is the best. We win, draw, and lose with and without Virgil. In this squad, I have a lot of players that can play. We are used to changes. We can’t use this performance as an excuse.”
After bids from Liverpool and Chelsea were rejected in the summer for the ponytailed purveyor of aerial duels, Southampton appears set to concede an exit for the 26-year-old. “We tried to do the best for the team. The board decided to try to keep our best player at the club. This situation is a big learning curve for everybody and now we decide what is the best for the club,” Pellegrino added.
“He’s part of our club and he’s an important player for us, but we’ll see what happens. I can’t control the whispers and news from outside.”
After a failed summer move saw the player exiled to solo training, Van Dijk was not involved against Huddersfield on the other side of Christmas, and after he didn’t make the trip to Wembley on Tuesday, the writing is on the wall.
Reports suggest Southampton is looking for a massive £70-million bid for the player – a number that would eclipse the world-record fee paid for a defender that Manchester City set upon luring Benjamin Mendy to the Etihad for £52 million. City is also allegedly interested in Van Dijk, with the Mirror’s John Cross reporting that the runaway Premier League leader will vie for the player alongside Chelsea and Liverpool when the winter window opens Jan. 1.