Liverpool have confessed their sins to the Saints and apologised over "any misunderstanding" concerning their interest in defender Virgil van Dijk.
As BBC Sport reports, the 25-year-old Southampton defender was linked so strongly with a move to Anfield that the South Coast club lodged an official complaint with the Football Association in which they accused their Premier League rivals of "tapping up" their Dutch international.
The FA had promised to investigate the matter and the prospect of a heavy fine, plus the possibility of a points deduction, clearly put the frighteners on the Merseyside club, who had reportedly arranged meetings wih the player before approaching his employers.
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In a statement published on their official website, the Reds hung their heads in collective shame as they said: "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. 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."
Describing the announcement as a "major blow" for Liverpool given their need for back four reinforcements, the BBC predicts that van Dijk will remain at Southampton with Chelsea and Manchester City unlikely to risk the Saints wrath with a bid of their own.
Meanwhile, the Daily Star says that the Reds hope to have better luck in luring Gaetan Laborde to Anfield. The 23-year-old Bordeaux striker has apparently "caught the eye" of Jurgen Klopp this season, having scored 13 goals in 25 appearances, and the Star says the French frontman is likely to be made an offer in the coming weeks.
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