Liverpool and Chelsea target Virgil Van Dijk could end his Southampton exile this weekend, according to Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino.
The Belfast Telegraph report that the Dutch defender could play in his first game for the South Coast club since January after suffering a foot ligament injury. They play Crystal Palace, in Roy Hodgson’s first game as new Eagles boss, away from home in the early kick on Saturday.
The Holland international submitted a transfer request earlier in the summer amid strong interest from Liverpool and Chelsea, per The Metro. Consequently, he has not featured in any of his club’s first five games of the season.
Van Dijk did feature in Southampton’s under-23 game with Aston Villa, but put in a horror show as the side fell to a 4-0 defeat, so say The Belfast Telegraph.
They claim first-team manager Pellegrino said:
“Virgil was training well. He played 90 minutes the other day, the reserve game.
“But tomorrow (Friday) we will decide (whether he features against Palace).
The Argentine was pretty coy on whether Van Dijk would reclaim the captains armband from current skipper Steven Davis.
“For me the captain is something that the team-mates decide and something that you have to deserve,” he stated.
“Now, when he’s not playing, you cannot put the captain on someone that is not playing, but obviously Virgil was one of the leaders of the squad.”
If Van Dijk is indeed chosen to play against Palace, it will be very interesting to see what reaction the Saints fans give the want-away star. Cue the boo-brigade.