In the days leading up to Liverpool’s world-record signing for a defender—a cool £75 million to Southampton for Virgil van Dijk—there were rumors that Manchester City was keen on bringing the player to the wrong northwest England city. Certainly, a club like Man City would have fit more with the current way things have been going in world football. The Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, and the Spanish giants were all the ones supposed to be splashing the cash. Not Liverpool.
Fenway Sports Group apparently read the rumors as well, and were not about to allow their nearly year-long pursuit of Van Dijk be hijacked, simply to keep with the traditional narrative. Instead, they offered up an additional £15 million to Southampton, on top of the £60 they were willing to spend this summer.
Moreover, with City sniffing around, the club sent the medical team to Bournemouth Airport prior to finalizing the deal with Southampton in order to complete the medical at a moment’s notice, and prevent any second-thoughts by either the Saints or the want-away defender.
The result? Liverpool blindsided Manchester City (and the footballing world at large), announcing that not only had a deals been agreed upon by Southampton and Van Dijk, but the medical had already been completed. Within an hour of news initially breaking, Liverpool were formally announcing their biggest-ever signing. And the January window isn’t even open yet.