Virgil van Dijk's future at Southampton has once again been cast in severe doubt after Mauricio Pellegrino ordered the player to train away from the first-team after telling the club he still wants to leave.
Liverpool was forced to abandon their £60m pursuit of van Dijk in June after it emerged the Merseyside club have made an illegal approach to try and sign the defender. When faced with the threat of a Premier League investigation, the Premier League club issued a grovelling apology to Southampton, insisting they had ended their interest in the player.
Southampton have made it clear their intention is to retain their captain whatever offers come in, but van Dijk remains determined to force his way out of the club.
Saints boss Pellegrino explained: "My relationship with Virgil is excellent. I was clear with the boy, and I was talking from the first day with him. The club was clear. The club told me they will not sell Virgil. I communicate the idea of the club to the players and for me it was easy [to leave Van Dijk out of training] because I had to manage the dynamic of the team.
"Now he is not involved with the team because psychologically he is not 100%. If you are not 100 per cent with the team I need to work with the players who are 100% to defend Southampton. It's easy for me."
He added: "The boy said that he is not available to play because he wants to leave. This is the decision. I had to say, 'If you don't want to be involved because you don't feel okay then you have to train alone until this period of time is over."
Despite Southampton's warnings, former Liverpool players have urged the Reds to pursue the Netherlands international with the club still to bring in an addition centre-half – a problem area for the club and Jurgen Klopp last season.
Despite the current stand-off between player and club, Pellegrino hopes van Dijk chooses to "review his feelings", insisting the club remain insistent he will not leave.
"I want to help the squad, I want to help Virgil, but we need a player, and I repeat, involved in every training session, not just with the body but with the mind on the pitch with the rest of the players."