• Pellegrino has dropped Van Dijk in Southampton's last two fixtures against Chelsea and Huddersfield.
  • Sport claims the 26-year-old Dutch international is interested in leaving the Saints for Barcelona.

Barcelona have reportedly identified Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk as a transfer target in the January transfer window.

The Saints settled for a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town in the Premier League on 23 December. The Dutch international was not included in the squad for the clash against David Wagner's side and remained an unused substitute in his side's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea.

According to Spanish publication Sport, Van Dijk has emerged as a transfer target as the Catalan club looks to bolster their back four. The same report also claims Mauricio Pellegrino's decision to not use the defender's services in the last two fixtures is down to the player's future at the St Mary's Stadium.

Pellegrino revealed his decision to pick the best team convinced him to drop the 26-year-old, which saw him not feature in the last two fixtures against Chelsea and Huddersfield. The Southampton manager refused to discuss if the player will be allowed to leave the club in the mid-season transfer window.

"I decided that was best for this moment. This is the reason. I am responsible for picking 11 players, and I intend to pick the best for the team," Pellegrino explained, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.

"Around him will be a lot of speculation and we have to wait to see what happens. Van Dijk's future? I don't know, we'll have to wait, but I will repeat, there will be a lot of speculation around him. We have to wait."

Sport claims Van Dijk is interested in leaving the South Coast club and make a switch to Camp Nou. The centre-half's interest in joining Barcelona may not go down well with the two other clubs – Liverpool and Manchester City – looking at signing him in January.

Jurgen Klopp is an admirer of the Dutchman and has identified the Saints star as a player who can strengthen his side's back four. Pep Guardiola is also keen on bringing him to the Etihad, who is valued around £70m ($93.5m), according to the Mirror.

With Barcelona now joining the race in signing Van Dijk, Southampton could be open to the idea of allowing the unhappy defender join a foreign club.

He signed a new six-year deal at Southampton in May 2016. Any approach from Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester City could see them spend heavily in landing Van Dijk, either in January or after the end of the season.

Virgil van Dijk
Barcelona have now joined Liverpool and Manchester City in signing Virgil van Dijk Getty