Liverpool target Virgil van Dijk left out of Southampton’s French training camp

Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk, who is Liverpool's only central defensive target this summer, has been left out of the Saints' trip to South East France.

The rest of the Southampton team will continue preparations for the new season in Evain-les-Bains, but van Dijk will not be with them as he continues to train alone.

New Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino had banished the Dutchman from team training earlier in the week after he expressed a desire to leave, suggesting that van Dijk was "not 100%."

Now he has been left at home as Southampton take a 25-man squad for their next step in pre-season, where they will play Saint-Etienne on Saturday.

Liverpool had supposedly ended their interest in van Dijk earlier in the summer after the Southampton hierarchy accused Liverpool of tapping up the player.

Southampton believed that Liverpool had illegally approached their prized asset, with rumours that Jurgen Klopp had shown the Dutchman exactly how he would fit into Liverpool's team at a secret meeting, without the permission necessary from his current club.

Could a move still happen this summer?

The South Coast outfit, tired of losing players to Liverpool, with Adam Lallana, Sadio Mané and Nathaniel Clyne just some of the players to make the move over in the last few seasons, decided to take a strong stance, and reported Liverpool to the relevant authorities.

Liverpool, wary of the potential repercussions, immediately apologised for "any misunderstanding" and publicly withdrew their interest in an unprecedented statement.

If a transfer was to take place after that, the ball was always in the court of van Dijk to force the move, with Liverpool unable to renege on such a strong apology.

With van Dijk training alone, the door might be open should Southampton change their mind and decide to get shot of an unhappy player – only then will Liverpool attempt to open discussions.

Whilst van Dijk being left out of the pre-season camp will be seen as a step in the right direction as far as the transfer happening is concerned, Saints could still play hardball, just as Liverpool did when Luis Suárez was training on his own when he wanted to leave for Arsenal.

The Uruguayan ended up staying put with Liverpool unprepared to sell at any price.

Given any glimmer of hope, Liverpool will table a substantial offer, but even now there is no guarantee that van Dijk will be at Anfield by August 31.

If the van Dijk deal does not get done, Liverpool reportedly have no other alternative centre-half targets, but the saga may well go on for a little longer yet.