Southampton left Virgil van Dijk out of their matchday squad on Saturday, further intensifying rumours the defender is set to leave the club in January.
Transfer links to Liverpool and Manchester City have resurfaced in the past weeks with van Dijk reportedly eager to finally seal a move away from Southampton.
Van Dijk failed to force a switch in the summer, despite refusing to play for the club and issuing a public statement detailing his desire to leave.
The centre-back is a target of the Premier League leaders and the belief is City are leading the race for his signature.
Van Dijk was welcomed back into the Southampton first-team by Mauricio Pellegrino earlier in the season, but the Netherlands international was dropped completely from the latest Saints’ squad.
Southampton take on Huddersfield, but Van Dijk was a noticeable absentee from the 18-man squad and his absence sparked further transfer speculation on social media.
The club have yet to confirm whether Van Dijk is injured or has been left out for other reasons.
It is the second game in a row Van Dijk has not made the starting eleven as the 26-year-old watched from the bench for Southampton’s game against Chelsea last week.
Pellegrino denied before the game the club had opened talks with City over a deal for Van Dijk.
‘I was with (Southampton vice-chairman) Les Reed talking about that but nobody knows about that,’ Pellegrino said.
‘I know Virgil is an important player and around him will be a lot of speculation like other important players in the squad.
‘I cannot control this and I don’t want to talk about it.’
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