Southampton players would welcome Virgil van Dijk back with open arms despite the Dutch centre-back’s transfer standoff with the Premier League club, midfielder Steven Davis has said.
Van Dijk handed in a transfer request last week after expressing disappointment at the club’s refusal to listen to offers for him.
Davis took the captain’s armband in the absence of Van Dijk, who was ruled out of the weekend’s goalless draw with Swansea City due to a virus.
“It’s a situation Virgil has got to deal with himself,” Davis told reporters.
“Nobody else is living in that moment so nobody knows what’s going through his head.
“But we’re all there to support him and we’d welcome him back with open arms. That goes without question because of the quality that he’s got.”
Van Dijk has been linked by the British media with several Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, who were forced to make a public apology after being accused of making an illegal approach for the player earlier in the transfer window.
“We’re all professionals, we know that’s football, we know what goes on behind the scenes,” Davis added.
“We’re desperate and we hope we can keep him because he’s such a quality player and an important player in the dressing room as well.”
Southampton, who have failed to score in their last six league games at home, host West Ham United on Saturday.