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Liverpool drop interest in Southampton star, Chelsea and Man City on red alert

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Liverpool have dropped their interest in fellow English football club Southampton's defender Virgil Van Dijk after being accused of illegally approaching the Dutch international.

Southampton requested the authorities of the English Premier League (EPL) to investigate the city-based club over their breach of rules.

Liverpool on Wednesday released a statement expressing regret over the incident and apologised to Southampton's fans, directors and owner.

"Liverpool Football Club would like to put on record our regret over recent media speculation regarding Southampton Football Club and player transfers between the two clubs," a Liverpool statement read.

"We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk. We respect Southampton's position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player," the statement added.

Liverpool were in clear violation of EPL's rules which state that "a club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player's current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him".

"A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions."

This does not mean that Van Dijk is certain to remain at Southampton as the Dutchman has been a subject of wide interest in the EPL. With Liverpool now out of the picture Chelsea and Manchester City can consider making a move to acquire the 25-year-old, who has a price-tag of around $60 million.