When Liverpool finally landed their number one transfer target, Virgil van Dijk, earlier this month, Reds’ fans gave a collective sigh of relief. The club spent nearly a year courting the former Southampton defender, having made their interest known last spring. It didn’t happen in the summer, but by the winter, Klopp got his man.
Liverpool weren’t the only clubs interested in the wantaway Dutchman. It was heavily rumored that Chelsea were also in the market for a defender and keen to bring Van Dijk on.
On Tuesday, manager Antonio Conte admitted that Chelsea had tried to beat Liverpool to the player, without success.
“This is football,” Conte said. “This is life. For sure he was our target but as you know this is football. We can have a lot of targets but you must be able to reach those targets. The transfer market is not simple for any club.”
Van Dijk had not been shy about Anfield being his preferred destination when he finally left Southampton. And of course, Liverpool were willing to cough up Southampton’s premium fee of £75m, while Chelsea are said to have refused anything over £50m for the player.
In the end, Van Dijk shattered Liverpool’s transfer record, and moved himself a step closer to legend status when he scored the late game-winner in the 3rd round FA Cup Merseyside derby.