With the start of the January transfer window just over a week away, the hot stove is definitely starting to warm up. For Liverpool, all eyes are naturally being pulled toward the South Coast and hearts are being set on one Virgil Van Dijk.
We’ve covered VVD at length here, so I’ll trust you’re more or less familiar with what’s going on. I’ll just point to our most recent coverage, which included some distressing news that Manchester City may swoop in like some terrifying predatory bird and sign Van Dijk ahead of us.
Whether VVD ends up coming to Liverpool or not, it appears that he is increasingly likely to go somewhere next month.
The latest bit of tea leaves pointing to that development: Van Dijk being left off the teamsheet for Southampton’s match with Huddersfield Town earlier today. The Netherlands international wasn’t even named to the bench for the Saints’ 1-1 draw.
And while he’s neither confirming nor denying, Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino seemed to indicate that the rumors surrounding Van Dijk’s impending exit, and perhaps the player’s current mindset, contributed to the decision to leave him at home.
"There is a lot of speculation about him,” Pellegrino said. "I cannot control this but I have to think about the next game. We train tomorrow and then decide if he can play."
You can interpret that a number of ways, and maybe I’m reading too much into it. But I can’t see how or why a manager would obliquely refer to transfer speculation while answering a question on why a player wasn’t on the teamsheet for a match.
Southampton have three games left in the “festive season”; away at Tottenham on Boxing Day, away at Manchester United in one week, and Crystal Palace at home on 2nd January. Those of us who are still holding out hope for enticing VVD to Anfield will likely be keeping an eye on Southampton’s next few team selections.