Liverpool FC have issued an official apology to Southampton over the problems that have arisen regarding the move for Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.
The transfer at one point seemed all but completed, as various reports claimed van Dijk was thoroughly convinced by Jurgen Klopp’s plans for the future of the team and he had therefore decided to reject advances from the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in favour of a Merseyside move.
The Battle for Virgil van Dijk Rages On
Southampton have, however, always maintained that the player was not for sale, and the fact that five years still remain on his current contract makes their hand strong in the matter. They have therefore opted to report Liverpool to the Premier League for possible “tapping up” of the player. That would mean that Liverpool have spoken to the player before speaking to the club, which in turn means they would have broken Premier League rules.
As Liverpool are still serving a two-year transfer ban (second year suspended) for academy players for the same offence in regards to a 12-year-old player from Stoke City, the Reds have decided to drop their interest in van Dijk and apologise to Southampton, in order to avoid any action from the Premier League.
The club statement 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.”
Should the Saints accept the apology, the Premier League is unlikely to act.
There are several possible things this change of heart from Liverpool might mean.
The Reds have maybe identified a suitable alternative to van Dijk, and in that light they now view the Dutchman not worth the hassle, especially if the fee and high wage demands are added to the equation. If this is the case, then the deal is highly unlikely to happen this summer at all, regardless of what Southampton or van Dijk might do.
On the other hand, it is possible that Liverpool feel they have done more than their fair share to make the transfer happen by being ready to pay Southampton a high fee and van Dijk high wages, and therefore they feel that it is up to van Dijk himself to show determination and hand in a transfer request. In this case a deal still might happen, though it would now take a lot of work. Firstly, van Dijk would have to to get his club to respect his wish to leave, and then the two clubs would have to reach an agreement.
Paul Joyce, the rather reliable football correspondent for “The Times”, claims Liverpool have drawn up a contingency list of defenders, but he is not ruling any development out. He also believes that the fate of Southampton manager Claude Puel will influence the matter as well, as he is set to be sacked.
Van Dijk would be the sixth player to swap the St. Mary’s for Anfield in the last three years – after Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Nathaniel Clyne and Sadio Mane, and Southampton at this point seem desperate to show Liverpool they would not be bullied anymore.
Whatever the outcome, this transfer saga isn’t likely to be resolved any time soon, much to the dismay of Jurgen Klopp, who feels the new players coming in early is essential for the way he wants to build his team.
At the moment Liverpool are regrouping, van Dijk wants the move, and Southampton seem determined to keep him, while Chelsea and Manchester City are probably looking on from a corner ready to pounce.
It’s going to be an interesting battle.