Liverpool have apologised to Southampton after being accused of illegally approaching Virgil van Dijk, saying any transfer interest in the defender has been dropped.

The 25-year-old is said to prefer a move to Anfield should he leave St Mary’s this summer, although a host of clubs are chasing him.

Southampton reportedly contacted the Premier League on Tuesday over concerns Liverpool had broken rules in pursuit of the Dutchman, with the Reds responding with a statement that all-but ends a potential move.

"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," the club said on their website.

Southampton's Virgil Van Dijk challenges Manchester City's Sergio Aguero

"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."

Southampton insist Van Dijk is not for sale at any price, although an asking price of £60 million has been widely reported.