Virgil van Dijk is still hopeful of a move to Liverpool in this transfer window, The Independent understands, although his future could yet be complicated by a late bid from Arsenal and title rivals Chelsea.
The 26-year-old centre-half has effectively been exiled from the Southampton squad since telling new manager Mauricio Pellegrino that he wanted to leave in July, and Anfield remains his first choice for a move.
While it would take a huge amount of money - likely over £70m - to even persuade the south-coast club to sell in the first place, the St Mary's hierarchy remain adamant they will not sell to the Anfield club.
That has ensured Chelsea have kept their long-standing interest in Van Dijk, while Arsenal are now ready to enter the fray, and both clubs are considering late bids - though the problem would then be that Southampton accepting any offer would then allow Liverpool back in to match it.
Sources close to the player have told The Independent he is still optimistic that he will be an Anfield player by the end of the window, and that it is still by far his first preference. Manchester City have previously been linked with the player but are instead focusing on a move for veteran centre-back Jonny Evans, who could leave West Bromwich Albion this week. Arsenal are also considering a move for Evans as Arsene Wenger looks for defensive reinforcements before Thursday's transfer deadline.
Van Dijk's deal has no bearing on the future of Mamadou Sakho, who continues to be frozen out by Jurgen Klopp. Crystal Palace are optimistic of securing a deal for the France international, but the Reds are holding out for the best part of £30m.
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