By Adam Newson, Football Whispers
The latest is the Dutch defender has handed in a transfer request in order to force through a move to Anfield. He has also released a statement in which he says he was “insulted” by the suggestion he refused to train.
Southampton have taken a hardline stance throughout the summer regarding van Dijk’s departure. They were angered by Liverpool speaking to the player without their permission – so much so they reported the Reds to the Premier League for tapping up – and are determined to keep him from moving to Merseyside.
However, with the Premier League season just days from getting underway, is the Saints’ stubbornness now causing them an unnecessary headache? And will they struggle in the top flight this season if they don’t offload van Dijk soon?
Our friends atFootball Whispers attempt to answer both questions.
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Southampton are used to their stars being linked with moves away from St Mary’s in recent years. And, ultimately, they’ve accepted defeat and let those players move on, usually to Liverpool.
The Saints have always used the big money they’ve received well, however, bringing in players who have gone on to exceed or match those who departed. But crucially they’ve always given themselves time to identify the right replacements.
You don’t tend to see Southampton involved in the madness of transfer deadline day. They usually get their business done smartly and early. And it’s served them well.
This summer appears to be very different, though. They’ve stood firm throughout and won’t be bullied by Liverpool into letting van Dijk depart. It’s an admirable stance but one that you feel will eventually weaken given the stinging statement released by the Holland international.
The relationship between club and player has seemingly broken down beyond repair. So the time is now for Southampton to finally listen to what Liverpool are offering. Wait any longer and the consequences could damage the Saints long after van Dijk has moved on.
Southampton have signed just the one player this summer, Jan Bednarek. There are several reasons as to why – including the surprising amount of time it took for the club to dispense with Claude Puel and hire Mauricio Pellegrino – but the uncertainty surrounding van Dijk is undoubtedly near the top of the list.
Without knowing if they’ll receive the £60m+ for van Dijk, where do the Saints go shopping? Do they target the stars worth in excess of £30m or operate within the same bracket, £10m-£20m, they have since returning to the Premier League in 2012? It’s all up in the air.
Southampton have a solid starting XI and finished eighth in the Premier League last season. But their final league position during 2016/17 shouldn’t deceive fans, pundits and the club’s board. The Saints collected only six points more than 17th-place Watford and were just 12 clear of the drop.
It’s why, if van Dijk is sold, it has to be sooner rather than later. Southampton have proven they can reinvest smartly but a trolly-dash on deadline day rarely works out. And clubs would take advantage of Southampton as they would know the Saints had £60m in bank account just waiting to be spent.
Without signings there’s a realistic chance the south coast club could struggle this season. Newly promoted Huddersfield Town, Brighton and Newcastle United have been busy spending while the rest of the Premier League, barring Tottenham Hotspur, have all made several additions to their squads.
Southampton risk being left behind in the transfer market which is something they simply can’t afford to let happen. And, as admirable as their fight to keep van Dijk out of Liverpool’s clutches has been, it may now be better for the club if he moved on.
The Saints have rebuilt before and they can do so again. They just have to ensure there is enough time to do so.