It’s no secret that Liverpool, and a handful of their Premier League rivals, have more than a passing interest in Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk. In fact, the not-quite-secret nature of that interest has become a point of contention among supporters in recent days, with the club risking, to a certain extent, losing face given the apparent transparency with which it has gone about its business this summer.
There were noises that Van Dijk had one foot at the Etihad Stadium, with those noises reaching a crescendo yesterday with reports in the Mirror that an eye-watering £60million deal had been reached between Manchester City and Southampton, coupled with equally hefty personal terms for the player. Annoyingly, or encouragingly, depending on your point of view, the sage seems set to meander on, as the Liverpool Echo maintains that manager Jürgen Klopp remains in the chase for the center-half.
According to Ian Doyle, the earlier reports about Manchester City are premature, and Van Dijk is still weighing his options. Doyle notes that Liverpool continue to receive encouraging signs from the player’s representatives, which could either be a sign that Van Dijk is genuinely taking factors other than money into account, or that there’s some gamesmanship going on (which would in turn suggest that the whispers regarding a five-year, £200,000-a-week deal were no more than whispers).
From a neutral perspective, Manchester City offer many of the same enticements that Liverpool are no doubt dangling, such as Champions League football, a nice paycheck, and the chance to work with an iconic manager. Indeed, in at least two out those three categories, City probably have an advantage, given their financial resources and the fact that they’ve qualified directly for the Champions League group stages. The decision will likely come down to intangible factors, so here’s hoping that Klopp can work some of his magic.