Virgil Van Dijk submitted a transfer request to Southampton today just as a lot of football observers thought he would do as a last resort in his long-drawn dispute with his club.
In deed the war of attrition between VVD and Southampton was inevitably heading to its current pass when it became clear that the Saints were irrevocably committed to their decision not to sell their want-away striker this summer.
VVD problem with the club started after Southampton reported Liverpool to the English FA for speaking to the Dutch international about a big-money transfer to Anfiled without their express approval. Liverpool were forced to issue an apology to the Saints for any perceived wrong-doing in their alleged attempt to sign the player and immediately dropped their pursuit of the central half.
Thereafter VVD immediately told the club of his intention to move to another club this summer and Southampton emphatically refused to grant him his request .He was later dropped from the club’s pre-season’s tour and forced to train alone because of his questionable commitment to the club after he made his intention to leave known to the club management.
VVD’s submission of transfer request today is the final hand he had to play in his desperation to force a move to one of the clubs vying for his signature.
Football experts knew that in spite of Liverpool’s apology to Southampton over their untoward pursuance of VVD that the club remained keenly interested in bringing the Dutch central half to their club to shore up their defensive line. Liverpool – people believed – were simply waiting for an auspicious moment to made a bit for the wantaway defender. It is left to seen whether Liverpool would be his next destination should the Saints be willing to sell him in this summer transfer market.
Below is the copy for VVD’s transfer request to Southampton:
“It is with regret that I can confirm that I have today handed in a transfer request to leave Southampton.
“Unfortunately I feel I have no alternative after I was given notice of the club’s intention to impose a disciplinary sanction against me of a fine equivalent to two weeks’ wages. I will be appealing what I feel to be an unjustified sanction and their inability to follow the correct disciplinary protocol in due course.
“Over the past six months I have held numerous discussions with representatives of the board, the former manager Claude Puel as well as the new manager Mauricio Pellegrino to inform them all of my desire to leave the club in search of a new challenge.
“I am incredibly ambitious and want to achieve as much as I possibly can to fulfil my potential in what is a very short career as a professional footballer. I want to play European football again and challenge for major honours and, as such, I would like Southampton to consider the interest in me from top clubs should it still exist.
“I have been left frustrated by the club’s position that I am not for sale and am disappointed that enquiries from multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed. The period of time that I have just spent injured and unable to play has put a number of things into perspective and made me realise just how important it is to take major opportunities should they arise.
“I have consistently relayed my feelings to senior management at Southampton in what I believed to be private and personal conversations. Disappointingly, these conversations have regularly found their way into the media.
“I would also like to make clear that I have never once refused to train. I can confirm that I was asked about my frame of mind and for all of the reasons mentioned above I was open and honest in saying that I did not feel I was in a settled mindset given the circumstances. Following this conversation, the manager explained that he only wanted players who he felt were 100 per cent committed to Southampton and told me I would, therefore, have to train away from the first team.
“As a proud professional I am insulted by the suggestion that it was me who refused to train and so feel it is important to point out the true version of events. I had very much hoped to retain the good relationship I’ve always enjoyed with everyone at the club, especially the fans, but unfortunately in light of everything that’s happened this has now been seriously affected.
“I would like to make clear that I have nothing but gratitude to everyone at Southampton for giving me the opportunity to play in the Premier League. However, the time for me to move on is now and I hope to be able to work with the club to find the best resolution to suit all parties.”
The club where VVD would eventually ply his trade next season is hard for anyone to conjecture, but the conclusion to draw from his recent action or inaction at Southampton is that the contracts most footballers have with their clubs are not worth the paper on which they are signed. VVD , it must be remembered, recently signed a six-year contract with Southampton which made him the club’s highest paid player and he was also made the club captain all in an effort to keep at the club for the near future.
His recent action smacks of all that is wrong with modern football, and till the relevant authorities make rules that compel players to see out their contracts with their clubs : this type of ugly incidence will continue to play out in every transfer window.