Liverpool drop transfer interest in Virgil van Dijk and apologise to Southampton after official complaint

'We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk'

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The Independent Football

Liverpool have ended their transfer interest in Southampton's Virgil van Dijk, after being accused of illegally approaching the defender, and apologised to the club for "any misunderstanding" regarding the player.

This follows Southampton's request to the Premier League that the Anfield club be investigated after it became clear that Liverpool had spoken to the Dutchman without Saints' permission.

Southampton had yet to receive any official contact from Liverpool regarding Van Dijk, though The Independent understands that high-level talks between the two clubs took place on Wednesday, the first time that officials had spoken this summer.

In a statement released by Liverpool, the club expressed their "regret" over the incident and apologised to Southampton's owner, board of directors and fans.

"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," the statement read.

"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 Premier League make clear the necessary procedures needed to take place for a club to approach a transfer target, with Liverpool in clear violation of such rules.

"A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player's current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him," the Premier League states. 

"A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions."

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Van Dijk has caught the eye of a number of Premier League clubs (Getty)

Van Dijk has been subject to wide interest from across the Premier League and the Reds' decision to drop their interest in the Dutchman now leaves the door open to Chelsea and Manchester City.

Liverpool have already been disciplined this season over their transfer activities.

The club was banned in April from signing any Premier League players to their Academy for two years and fined £100,000 after they were found guilty of illegally approaching and offering an 11-year-old an inducement in order to join the Anfield outfit.

The academy player in question was previously registered with Stoke City, but even though a compensation fee was agreed between Liverpool and the Potters in September 2016 for his transfer, the Premier League board rejected the move due to the Merseyside club offering to pay the player’s private school fees.

An investigation was launched into the move, which discovered that Liverpool had contravened Premier League rules regarding the signing of young players before they applied for his transfer.

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