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Chinese Investors Take 80% Stake in Southampton FC

Boon or bane in Liverpool’s pursuit of Virgil Van Dijk?

Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Yes, we’re all tired of these same 5 pictures. #giveusthemleaningpics
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Previously, on VVD: A Tragicomedy...our (soon-to-be) hero found himself stranded in the purgatory between a small but stubborn resistance to the South and sweet Red redemption to the North.

The much sought after center back has now been training alone for so long, rumours are that his Southampton team mates would no longer recognize him were he even to return. Some of their newer, CB-shaped signings have had nothing to go off of but stories and legends, similar to tales of colossal dragons in times past, except way better at defending set pieces.

Transfer request? Check.

However, yet another emotionally-taxing twist in the saga may be in the offing. Reports have been confirmed that owner Katharina Liebherr and the Southampton board are allying with Chinese businessman, Jisheng Gao and his daughter Nelly in a deal said to be between £210m and £230m. The sale will be for 80% of the club while Liebherr, who inherited her throne from her father Markus in 2010, will retain her 20% stake.

“I am honoured and humbled to become a partner of Southampton football club alongside Katharina Liebherr, who, together with her father, has been such a great steward of the club, its growth and success,” said Gao the elder, First-of-His-Name, in a statement following the sale.

It would signal the end of a protracted saga that saw the owners of Lander Sports, a Chinese sports site construction company, finally receive the OK from a majority of Premier League owners. To clear that final hurdle, the 64-year-old businessman and his daughter made the decision to use their personal wealth rather than…

...whatever, man. Let’s just read too much into that statement from the new lord of the realm to fish for VVD clues: so “success” for Southampton has generally been defined as full coffers each summer after a mammoth sale of the previous season’s biggest star. Furthermore, reasonable “growth” of the “success” defined in this manner would be doubling the club’s record £34m fee for Sadio Mané set only last year, which sounds awfully close to that £65m figure for VVD that’s been bandied about...

All jokes aside, it is unsure what exactly this shift in the power structure of Liverpool’s favorite trading partners means for Liverpool’s chances of getting Jürgen Klopp’s #1 target to lean on some things. On one hand, the prospect of immediately recouping up to a third of a nine-figure outlay through the sale of a star who he personally has no attachment to might be too appealing of a proposition to a businessman like Gao.

On the other hand, the protracted but determined nature of this deal might imply that chairman, Les Reed’s defiant stance on the matter might be shared by their then-presumed, and now official business partners.

But then again—on that trusty third hand—if the primary factor holding up this completely rational deal from going through is the fear of the irate fan mob that will descend upon the Southampton FC Twitter battlements, then surely a fresh face at the head gives the board a face-saving mulligan to get the deal over the line. New foreign owners piss fans off all the time, almost as a rite of passage to the big time of Premier League riches.

Come on, Mr. Gao. Earn your stripes. Take this L

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