Virgil van Dijk: Southampton defender urged to stay by manager Mauricio Pellegrino

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk, centre, has won 12 Netherlands caps

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino hopes Virgil van Dijk will change his mind about wanting to leave the club.

The defender issued a transfer request earlier this week requesting that the Saints "consider the interest" in him.

Van Dijk, 26, will not feature in Saturday's Premier League opener against Swansea because of a virus, but Pellegrino wants him to play for the club this season.

"Virgil is an important player and we need him focused on our club," he said.

"My reaction is the same that I said three weeks ago: we are expecting him to come back, to train with us because we need the players, we need all of them.

"Hopefully he can change his point of view."

Van Dijk has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool this summer as well as attracting interest from Premier League champions Chelsea and Manchester City.

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

Former Celtic player Van Dijk signed a new six-year contract in May 2016, having joined Southampton for £13m from Celtic in September 2015.

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