Dutch international defender Virgil van Dijk will not play for Liverpool next season after the Premier League giants apologised to Southampton on Wednesday and said the matter had ended their interest in him.
Liverpool’s announcement came in the wake of media reports they were prepared to pay £60million (69m euros, $77m) for Van Dijk, easily breaking their record outlay for a player.
However, following those reports on Tuesday, Southampton asked the Premier League to look into the matter as to whether there had been an illegal approach for the 25-year-old.
Liverpool’s statement on Wednesday ended the matter and dealt a huge blow to manager Jurgen Klopp, who had according to The Sun persuaded the board to meet Van Dijk’s huge wage demands of around £200 000 a week.
“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,” read the statement.
“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.”
Van Dijk – who joined Southampton in 2015 after impressing at Scottish champions Celtic – was apparently keen to move to Liverpool not only for Champions League football but because his good friend and compatriot Georginio Wijnaldum is there.
Southampton have become a favoured hunting ground for Liverpool in the past three years, having signed five players – including Adam Lallana and Senegalese star Sadio Mane – for a total of almost £100 million.