Southampton’s Mauricio Pellegrino: ‘The biggest risk is to be alive, no?’

The Saints manager is unconcerned about his side’s lack of goals and philosophical about Virgil van Dijk’s future as the Argentinian prepares to face his former club Liverpool

Mauricio Pellegrino did not have the ideal start to his career as a Premier League manager. Virgil van Dijk in effect went on strike shortly after the Argentinian walked through the Southampton door, casting a cloud of uncertainty over pre-season as he tried to make a good first impression on his players. Perhaps it worked in Pellegrino’s favour that he comes across as an incredibly calm and philosophical character. He is also realistic and understands that Saturday’s match at Liverpool has put Van Dijk under the microscope again – not that he thinks it will affect his leading defender.

“I don’t think it will be difficult because Virgil knows he is focused 100% on our team and is training well,” Pellegrino says of a player who was primed to move to Anfield for £60m in June before a complaint of tapping up forced Liverpool into a humiliating climb-down. “He wants to improve his performances because he was injured in January and then he didn’t play any games. We cannot control the market and every single transfer window clubs are looking to buy our players. It’s part of our job. It’s no secret that sometimes players are distracted but it’s normal.”

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