Wed, Mar 14, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Van Dijk saga cost Pellegrino: Le Tissier

Reuters

Southampton’s refusal to sell defender Virgil van Dijk in the summer disrupted their English Premier League campaign which ultimately led to manager Mauricio Pellegrino being sacked, former club captain Matt Le Tissier said.

Southampton on Monday dismissed Pellegrino after just one victory in 17 league games.

Saturday’s 3-0 defeat by Newcastle United had left them a place and a point above the relegation zone and sealed the Argentine’s fate.

Le Tissier suggested that the turmoil surrounding Van Dijk’s future amid interest from Liverpool and Manchester City had affected the team’s performances.

Van Dijk eventually moved to Liverpool in January for £75 million (US$104 million), according to British media reports.

“I think that was probably something that, looking back with hindsight, the club would probably regret, trying to keep him in the summer,” said Le Tissier, who scored 209 goals for Southampton in 16 years at the club. “They tried to do the right thing by the fans, in terms of not selling their best player every season, but sadly that did appear to backfire and that situation probably didn’t help the performances in the first half of the season.”

Southampton have lost a large number of players to their rivals in the past few years and club chairman Ralph Krueger said earlier in the season that they were keen to end the perception that they were a selling club.

“That’s life, that’s football, those decisions were made with the best intentions and it didn’t turn out right,” Le Tissier said. “It’s now time to move on, appoint a new manager and get out of the trouble we are in at the moment.”

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