The past three days have seen Liverpool’s interest in the Southampton defender go from it looking almost certain for the Dutchman to sign this summer to it looking very unlikely.
On Monday, Southampton reported Liverpool to the Premier League for illegally approaching Virgil van Dijk. The Reds subsequently apologised on their official website, with the apology being accepted by the Saints, meaning disciplinary action will not be taken by the Premier League.
This is not the first time Liverpool have targeted a player from Southampton in recent years. It’s not even the second time. In fact, Jürgen Klopp wants to make van Dijk the sixth player to arrive from the South Coast in recent seasons and Saints fans are understandably aggrieved.
To get a better understanding of their stance on things, I had a chat with Chris Hughes from Saints Marching.
From a Southampton supporter’s perspective, how does it make you feel that Liverpool consistently target your club to recruit new players?
I think it’s definitely frustrating, perhaps most of all because Southampton players are expensive and that doesn’t mean you’re getting the best player! There are definitely defenders better than van Dijk who are also cheaper which perhaps makes it particularly annoying. I think it’d be nice just to have one summer where we don’t get one player pinched by Liverpool.
On the topic of Virgil van Dijk, do you think Southampton took the right course of action by reporting Liverpool to the Premier League for the illegal approach?
I think they do, I really do. They’ve been branded as petty but in truth, if the club didn’t give permission for Liverpool to approach or contact van Dijk then it is an unauthorised approach for him and reporting is the right course of action.
With news that Southampton have accepted Liverpool’s public apology, where do you think that leaves van Dijk? Will he stay, will he push for a move to Liverpool or will he go to London or Manchester?
It’s a tricky one. Until a formal bid is lodged it’s all hypothetical but keeping him will still be a tough task. I can see Manchester City paying the money for him due to the fact that their centre-backs are arguably worse than Chelsea’s. I’d like to think we could get another year out of him like we did with Wanyama and Schneiderlin.
Where would it leave Southampton if van Dijk submitted a written transfer request?
I think it’d really badly upset the fans. He signed a big six-year contract last year so to want to jump ship after one would really be a kick in the teeth, especially if he forced it through. You could argue a year is a long time and you can change your mind but you have to bear in mind that just five months ago he took up the role of team captain. It’d be really sour to turn his back on everything that the club has given to him this season.
What do you think Liverpool’s chances of signing van Dijk are after the whole “tapping up” debacle?
I don’t think they have no chance whatsoever but I think their chances are definitely worse after all this. They’ve gone on record to say they won’t pursue him anymore and have apologised to the club’s fans too which I think was sincere, but it’s a long summer and they could easily come back sniffing in August.
Who do you think Liverpool should target instead of van Dijk if they miss out on him?
I think whatever defender Liverpool sign this summer he needs to be strong and physical, much like VVD. I’m a big admirer of Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and I think he really fits the bill for the Reds – plus he’s only 25 like van Dijk so he’s got room to grow.