On Wednesday evening came the news that no Liverpool fan wanted to hear – the van Dijk transfer was off.
Virgil van Dijk has been linked with a move from Southampton to another Premier League club this summer, despite having signed a six-year contract with the Saints last year.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool were all interested in the centre-back but Liverpool were willing to pay the fee that Southampton were asking, as well as match wages offered by Manchester City which made them favourites to snap up the Dutchman.
Van Dijk had also expressed an interest in a move to Merseyside and has spoken to fellow Dutch international and Liverpool midfielder Gini Wijnaldum about Jürgen Klopp and about Liverpool Football Club.
Speculation grew and rumours were flying around social media that Klopp had met with van Dijk in Blackpool and discussions were in place. This led to a complaint to the Premier League by Southampton for making an illegal approach for van Dijk and came 24 hours before the public apology from Liverpool.
Southampton had solid evidence against Liverpool, including text messages from Klopp to the player and the two of them meeting in Blackpool, meaning that Fenway Sports Group would be justified in fearing an investigation into the club’s conduct from the Premier League, had the complaint been taken further.
Liverpool withdrew their interest in a player that they were willing to pay £60m for and were planning for months, indicating that they must have been doing something wrong to just pack up shop so suddenly, much to many fans’ disappointment.
Some believe that there is still a chance that van Dijk will pull on a Liverpool shirt, if he hands in a transfer request. I’m not getting my hopes up.
If not van Dijk, then who?
Liverpool have some alternative centre-backs in mind however, just in case the top four spot was not secured and Van Dijk would have been looking elsewhere for Champions League football.
Burnley’s Michael Keane, Hull City’s Harry Maguire and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly are among the alternatives that Klopp has in mind but he cannot afford further blunders if they are to build on last season’s progress.
In the last few days efforts to sign Roma’s Mohamed Salah have stalled as Liverpool are reluctant to meet the asking price of £35m and saw their £28m bid for the winger rejected as talks continue.
Burnley’s Keane has been valued at around £30m and many believe that signing him as an alternative to £60m van Dijk would be good business.
Manchester United are favourites to take back the centre-back, however he would add some much needed aerial strength to Liverpool’s back four. He enjoyed a fine season for the Clarets and helped the club avoid relegation and also earned himself an England call-up in the process.
24-year-old Maguire currently plays for Hull City, who were relegated to the Championship this season. He has attracting plenty of interest this summer, being on the radar for Everton, West Brom, West Ham and Southampton.
Maguire has one year left on his contract at Sheffield United but has no interest in a new deal at Hull, who would hope to cash in on the centre-back.
Koulibaly, from Senegal, plays for Napoli and has attracted interest from Chelsea and Liverpool as they go head-to-head to sign him.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said that if Koulibaly wants to leave, he can, and he has shown interest in going to the Premier League in the past, despite being in a contract with Napoli until 2021.
He is valued at around £25m, although Chelsea bid £60m for him last summer, and has scored two goals in 38 appearances in 2016/17 for SSC Napoli.
Of course, the Africa Cup of Nations would have to be considered as the Reds would lose him at the back and Sadio Mané up front every other year as the two are Senegal’s stars.
What do you make of the alternatives to van Dijk? Do you think VVD will hand in a transfer request, or have you given up all hope? Comment below or tweet me.