Long-term Liverpool target Virgil van Dijk insists he has no regrets over the protracted transfer saga that saw him unsuccessfully attempt to force through an exit from Southampton but has hinted that he could yet leave St Mary's when the window reopens for business in January.

The former Groningen and Celtic centre-back attracted interest from a host of Premier League heavyweights including Chelsea and Manchester City during the summer despite seeing his impressive second season at Southampton curtailed by an ankle injury.

Liverpool emerged as his most serious suitors, although initially looked to have ended their pursuit in June after issuing a humiliating public apology for "any misunderstanding" amid suggestions that they were about to be reported over an alleged illegal approach.

Those links persisted, however, with Van Dijk later ordered to train away from Mauricio Pellegrino's first-team squad after informing Southampton of his desire to leave.

He subsequently went public with a transfer request after being fined two weeks' wages, criticising the Saints' handling of the situation and imploring them to "consider the interest in me from top clubs should it still exist" after claiming that they had already rebuffed multiple inquiries.

Despite that, Southampton's resolve to retain the services of their most prized asset did not relent before the end of August. They have since slowly reintegrated Van Dijk back into the team, with the 26-year-old featuring for the Under-23s and later making his first senior appearance since January with a late cameo appearance in a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on 16 September.

He was handed his maiden start of the season in a 2-1 defeat at Stoke City last Saturday after being left as an unused substitute against Manchester United.

Addressing one of the summer's most enduring and unedifying transfer episodes after returning to the Netherlands squad for pivotal 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Sweden this week, Van Dijk told Fox Sports: "I have no regrets.

"Of course, I wanted to go one step up, but eventually Southampton did not want to let me go, but you're a professional, so now I'll give everything to the club."

Liverpool inexplicably failed to address their glaring centre-back issue before the summer market closed, a mistake that has since been exacerbated by a series of wretched defensive displays. Jurgen Klopp's side have conceded 20 goals already this term, with 12 coming in the Premier League.

They are expected to revisit their interest in the £60m-rated ($79.4m) Van Dijk in the New Year and the player does not yet appear to have given up hope of sealing a move to Anfield this season. "Halfway through the season, maybe we can see what's possible," he added.

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk has now resumed first-team duties with Southampton Jan Kruger/Getty Images