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.
Liverpool summer transfer targets
Liverpool summer transfer targets
1/10 Mohamed Salah
The Salah deal is inching over the line, with Liverpool confident of completing the deal by the end of the month. Roma are equally keen to sell given their need to comply with Fifa Financial Fair Play regulations. The winger will add yet more pace and industry to Liverpool's attack.
2/10 Timo Werner
Werner scored 21 goals in the Bundesliga last season as his goals fired RB Leipzig to second place and a first-ever Champions League qualification. The German club are keen to keep him but money talks and Liverpool are desperate for an out-and-out goalscorer.
3/10 Naby Keita
A difficult signing to pull off, but one that Liverpool are interested in making. Keita's dynamic performances in the centre of RB Leipzig's midfield have caught Klopp's eye, but also the attention of Bayern Munich, who are also monitoring the player.
4/10 Dusan Tadic
The Southampton attacker is out of favour on the south coast and desperate for a way out of the club. Liverpool are interested in him to provide competition and back-up to the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana with the added strain of European football.
5/10 Andrew Robertson
Given Hull's relegation to the Championship, Robertson is one of the players in the shop window. Left-backs are at the forefront of Klopp's transfer activity and Robertson will come fairly cheap.
6/10 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Somewhat surprising reports have arisen over recent weeks that Chamberlain will be a Liverpool player next season. A disappointing season for Arsenal has left their squad in disarray, and it is thought that the 23 year-old midfielder is seeking a new challenge. The player’s versatility across midfield positions is an appealing to Klopp, who will need added squad depth. Arsenal will not be keen to sell to a rival, but if the rumours are to be believed, Chamberlain has his heart set on the Merseyside club and a £35 million transfer could well be on the cards.
7/10 Douglas Costa
The 26 year old Brazilian winger has gained plaudits for his performances at the German champions, yet the player stated earlier in the season that he is ‘not that happy’, presumably at missing out to Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben regularly. He would cost upwards of £25 million and have plenty of suitors, meaning Liverpool are simply one of many clubs he could choose from, although he did recently ‘like’ a tweet from a Liverpool fan about the possibility of him joining the club. There is also a chance that Costa is happy in Munich but is seeking an improved deal, which would come as no real surprise.
8/10 Ryan Sessegnon
Sessegnon is a long-term option at left-back for Liverpool with the 17-year-old lighting up the Championship with Fulham. With only Alberto Moreno, who is expected to leave, and James Milner available in that position, Klopp wants to bring in at least two. He faces competition from Manchester United and Tottenham though.
9/10 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The most speculative target on the list is Gabon forward Aubameyang, who became a household name under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund. Constant questions over his future are expected to culminate in a move this summer, and while his former boss will no doubt be interested, European giants Real Madrid are circling and thought to be his preferred destination. While the versatile Roberto Firmino has had a good season deployed as Liverpool’s first choice striker and Divock Origi a promising talent, they still lack a world class centre forward like Aubameyang. Dortmund CEO Hanz-Joachim Watzke stated earlier this year that the striker, who has three years to run on his contract, would only leave ‘for an outrageous fee’.
10/10 Jonas Hector
A player Klopp will know well, the 26 year-old is thought to be a serious option with the manager unconvinced by Alberto Moreno. James Milner has deputised brilliantly this season but an out-and-out left back is a priority for the summer. Hector has earned 27 caps for Germany since 2014 and is known for his excellent positional understanding and for putting in accurate crosses. It is thought he would cost in excess of £20 million, which could be well worth it for a good player approaching his prime years.
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."
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.Reuse content