When Arsenal came calling for Luis Suarez, Liverpool convinced him to stay for one more year in part by telling him that he could do better; by telling him that with another good season, he could get his dream move to Barcelona instead. He stayed, had his best season in red, and then headed off to Barcelona.
It appears Southampton may be taking a similar approach with want-away star Virgil van Dijk. At least if former striker Gordon Watson is anything to go by, with the ex-Saints player speaking to local media today about the defender and giving him exactly the kind of advice Liverpool once gave to Suarez.
“This situation is laughable,” he told Southampton’s Daily Echo. “He’s up there with the two best centre backs in the Premier League. If he went to Barcelona he’d be waved off with everyone behind him Nobody would deny him such a move. But Liverpool? No, he’s way better than that. He’s been ill-advised.”
Though Van Dijk has been left behind while his teammates travel to France to continue their pre-season preparations, in public at least the club continue to insist that he has a future there and that the hope and goal is to win him back around and convince him to remain at St. Mary’s for at least another season.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have been attempting to rebuild their relationship with Southampton behind the scenes and have not felt able to launch a formal bid for the player, feeling they have to wait for an invitation to do so—or for another club to open bidding—after their apology last month for an improper approach.
“A move to Liverpool would just be a payday,” Watson added. “It wouldn’t be for trophies or accolades. It’s only for money, and with Barcelona in need of a defender you might have them knocking on the door soon. Van Dijk should only be moving to one of the best clubs in the world—Bayern, Real, Barcelona.
“If he went to one of them, he’d leave with Saints’ best wishes. You go to Liverpool, there’s no guarantee of trophies, just money. To further his career, he needs a move to one of the best.”