New Southampton boss Mauicio Pellegrino is to “reintegrate” Virgil Van Dijk, 26, into the Saints first team squad as the two parties seek reconciliation following a turbulent summer. With two pre-season friendlies remaining, coaching staff have been impressed by the defender’s diligence in attaining his fitness levels before the season begins, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Dutch international’s head was turned by the attentions of Liverpool once the 2016/17 Premier League season finished. The Reds failed to reach agreement with Southampton over a fee for Van Dijk and found themselves reported to the Premier League for ‘tapping up’ the imposing centre back.
Pellegrino is not prepared to sell his captain during his first summer in charge. Van Dijk’s contract runs until 2022 and the Saints are under no pressure to allow the player to leave from that respect.
Ryan Bertrand is in the same position. The 27-year-old is seen by Manchester City as an ideal back-up for their expensive array of defenders.
However, Southampton’s owner Katherine Liebherr and the board of directors back the manager’s stance. The former Liverpool, Barcelona and Valencia player is in no mood to back down.
Pellegrino has only landed Polish defender Jan Bednarek, 21, from Lech Poznan so far this summer and is determined to retain his most valuable players as the Saints look to improve on their 8th place finish in the Premier League last season.