Liverpool could return for Virgil van Dijk if Southampton reluctantly decide to listen to offers

Liverpool could still return for Southampton's Virgil van Dijk this summer, though only if the Saints make it clear that they are willing to listen to bids.

The centre-back has been the centre of a messy transfer saga that seemed to be ended when the Reds publicly apologised to Southampton and withdrew their interest in the player.

That followed allegations that Liverpool, in particular manager Jürgen Klopp, had been in discussions and met up with the Dutchman without having officially submitted a bid to the South Coast club.

Southampton reported the matter to the Premier League and fearing disciplinary action, Liverpool withdrew their interest in van Dijk - though it has been no secret that the 26-year-old remains Klopp's first-choice defensive target.

Recent reports have even suggested that van Dijk is Liverpool's only centre-half option this summer - and despite the tapping up allegations - they would be keen to make an official move were Southampton to reluctantly accept the player's wishes to leave.

Reds' chase of sought-after Netherlands international not yet over

The Reds' hopes of landing van Dijk were dealt a huge boost last week when it was revealed that the defender personally told Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino of his desire to move to Anfield.

The Spaniard, who played for Liverpool in 2005 before joining Rafael Benítez's backroom staff, questioned whether the player is currently "100 per-cent" there "psychologically" as he ordered him to train separately from the club's first-team squad.

He explained: "When I was talking with him, the boy said that he is not available to play because he wants to leave."

"This is the decision," Pellegrino added. "I had to say: 'OK, if you don't want to be involved because you don't feel OK, you have to train alone until this period of time.'"

Liverpool are keen to repair relations with their fellow Premier League outfit, having signed five players - Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and most recently Player of the Season Sadio Mané from St Mary's - since the summer of 2014.

Van Dijk - valued at a world-record £60 million fee for a defender - is said to be set on a move to Anfield, though Southampton are equally determined to keep him with his contract running until 2022.

A move could yet transpire, although it is likely to hinge on van Dijk's attitude and his willingness to force a move. Chelsea and Manchester City are other clubs who have been linked with an approach, though they are all believed to be aware of the defender's preference to play under Klopp.

Liverpool are stuck in a similar situation with RB Leipzig Naby Keïta, having had two confirmed bids of £57 million and £66 million rejected as they ponder a third approach for the midfielder.

But they also find themselves on the opposite end as they look to prevent Barcelona from prying prized playmaker Philippe Coutinho from them this summer.

The Catalan giants' £72 million bid was rejected instantly last week, with Liverpool insisting that the Brazilian is not for sale at any price - just as Leipzig have repeatedly stated over Keïta.