Liverpool were going to sign Virgil van Dijk. The funding was in place, the player wanted the move, and it was only a matter of time before he moved from Southampton to Liverpool. But the press were busy talking up the alternatives, saying he might end up at Chelsea or Manchester City, and Liverpool made a misstep.
They briefed the press, seeking to reassure fans that Van Dijk to Liverpool was the only possible outcome. The move backfired, angering Southampton and killing any chance of a deal getting done last summer. There have always been hopes, though, that Liverpool might be able to revive the deal and sign Van Dijk in January.
Those hopes, though, appear to have taken a blow this week with multiple reports—led by The Independent and Sky—that Van Dijk is Manchester City’s top target and likely to sign for them in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the only noises out of Liverpool are that they will only deal if Southampton signal their willingness.
Inevitably, this has Liverpool fans thinking they’ve lost the Van Dijk chase. And they may well have. Last summer’s major miscalculation—the club’s attempts to placate the fanbase by telling them a deal was done prematurely backfiring massively—could go down as the mistake that eventually cost the club Van Dijk.
Of course, given what happened last summer, if Liverpool felt confident in signing Van Dijk right now it’s hardly likely they’d let anyone know. Which isn’t to say that the absence of information from the Liverpool end should be construed as a positive, more that in this case more than most, the unknowns are unknown.
If City sign Van Dijk in January, Liverpool’s recruitment team and Sporting Director Michael Edwards will deserve another massive heaping of blame for last summer’s mistakes. Until that happens—or at least until a bid from City is accepted by Southampton while Liverpool sit and do nothing—it would be best to wait.
That’s not something fans are ever overly inclined to do, but in this case they will have to, because whatever Liverpool’s intentions and whatever Liverpool’s chances, this is one potential transfer the club will be keeping quiet on.