Despite being made to apologise to Southampton for ‘tapping up’ Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool FC could still sign the player this summer but should they?
It’s been a crazy couple of days for Liverpool fans. The whole saga surrounding Virgil Van Dijk has angered a large percentage of the Reds fanbase – admittedly myself included – with Twitter in particular becoming a toxic medium.
The worst part of the whole deal is that nobody really knows for sure what’s going on. To say the Reds evidently made a huge mistake and crossed boundaries would be an understatement given Southampton’s reaction but it’s generally unknown where they went wrong. Michael Edwards is the man in charge of Liverpool’s transfer dealings and negotiations but surely this isn’t all the fault of one individual?
The most frustrating part is that this kind of thing genuinely happens all the time in football. Very rarely is a transfer as simple as calling another club, agreeing a fee and then talking to the player in order to decide terms. There is more often than not at least some form of pleasantries and coercion towards the targeted player before attempting to negotiate a fee. You just have to look at Romelu Lukaku’s comments in the media this week to see what I mean.
The Belgian has all but confirmed that he’s spoken to the club that he’ll be playing for next season and come to an agreement over personal terms. Everton, however, haven’t received any official bid or contact from said club – believed to be Chelsea – and that surely is exactly what has happened with Liverpool and Van Dijk, isn’t it?
For me, all signs point to Southampton being far more upset by the lack of an expected bidding war than by the fact Liverpool made any contact with the player. The Saints valuation of the Dutchman seems to change daily with £50m, £60m, £70m and £75m all examples of the sums they expect for his services being thrown around consistently.
The fact that the player himself had his heart and mind set on joining Liverpool and ignoring interest from Manchester City and Chelsea would’ve deprived his current club’s chances of driving his price tag even higher. Getting an apology from the Reds and forcing them to end their current interest in the player reopens the door for both City and Chelsea while also putting Southampton back in the driver’s seat over any potential deal.
It is, however, still a strange occurrence given that the Reds seemed willing to part with as much as £60m for the Dutchman – a ridiculous sum of money for a defender.
Interestingly, a Q&A with Dominic King for MailOnline yesterday alluded to the fact that the Reds are not going to give up on the player, despite the seemingly final nature of their earlier statement of apology. King relays what we all knew already – that Klopp was hoping to make Van Dijk his “standout signing,” this summer – but adds that the club do not see this as a “moment for making definitive judgements on potential incomings.”
King reveals that the apology was something strongly pushed for by our owners Fenway Sports Group and that it was aimed at ending any possibility of a Premier League investigation over the incident. To put it simply, the apology was meant as a protection of public image and not a matter of forgetting about a move for Van Dijk.
However, with reports yesterday suggesting that Southampton will only consider offers in excess of £70m should the Reds really go back in for the defender?
Given how damaging events so far have been to the Reds reputation and how tough dealing with Southampton has already proven to be this summer, the Reds would in my opinion be wise to simply back off for good. We cannot risk angering Southampton any further – especially with a transfer ban potentially on the cards if the Premier League deems Liverpool to have broken any of their regulations – and the club have done enough grovelling for the Saints benefit for one window.
While I am in total agreement with the Guardian that this has been a “severe and avoidable setback,” for both the club and Klopp, we simply cannot afford to go crawling back on hands and knees for Van Dijk.
Our reputation has been damaged enough by this series of events and £70m is an utterly ridiculous sum of money for a defender that could be spent on as many as three players to strengthen other positions in our squad. As much as I’m personally gutted to have missed out on having Van Dijk in a Liverpool jersey, this saga has to end immediately.