Late last week, Southampton manager Claude Puel dismissed any talk of Liverpool moving for defender Virgil van Dijk as “just speculation.” This week, he may have a few more questions to face on the matter as rumours of a £25M release clause emerged as Liverpool’s defence was falling apart against Bournemouth.
Despite dominating the run of play, with Joël Matip out injured, Liverpool’s defence was repeatedly exposed en route to a shock 4-3 defeat. Soon afterwards, every tabloid in England seemed in unison to pick up on a story about van Dijk’s supposed release clause. One that Liverpool could trigger as soon as January.
Or at least that’s how the story goes today in The Mirror and The Express and The Mail. None, it’s fair to say, would be counted as reliable. And Liverpool suddenly going for van Dijk after one bad loss would seem more than a little knee-jerk. Still, if the release clause reports are true, interest wouldn’t be a shock.
Van Dijk has been linked with Liverpool before. He has also been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City, and Everton. The 25-year-old arrived at Southampton in the summer of 2015 in a reported £13M transfer from Celtic and has since played 53 games for the south coast club.
After agreeing an initial five-year deal, Southampton signed him to an improved six-year contract in May. However, the suggestion is that his new deal included an escape clause for van Dijk should a bigger club come calling for him, something that it is increasingly being reported is very much the case.
Whether the reports are accurate, and whether the rumoured interest is as well, should become clear in fairly short order. Because if van Dijk can be had for £25M, it’s likely that one of Liverpool, Everton, or the Manchester clubs is going to move for him sooner than later. Likely in January.