With Liverpool’s pursuit of Naby Keita looking increasingly unlikely to bear fruit, attention will soon shift back to landing another of their primary summer targets.
The Reds thought they had won the race to sign Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, only for their public hubris to lead to the threat of a Premier League investigation into an alleged illegal approach for the Dutch international.
Liverpool issued an apology at the time and have kept their distance since then but always maintained their interest in Van Dijk – and will officially move for the centre-back, according to the Liverpool Echo, only on the condition that Southampton make it clear they are willing to listen to offers.
Van Dijk has already told Southampton that he wants to leave and become the fifth Saints player since 2014 to move to Anfield. Indeed, new manager Mauricio Pellegrino – himself a former Liverpool defender, coincidentally – has made it public that the 26-year-old public is now training alone and will be left behind when the rest of the squad flies out to France for a pre-season training camp.
For now, however, Southampton’s stance is still that the player is not for sale. Thie measure, they argue, is a temporary one and that Van Dijk will be a part of the first-team picture again once he has accepted that he is expected to honour the six-year contract he signed last summer.
That may yet change the longer the situation plays out but as long as Southampton, have the ‘not for sale’ sign around Van Dijk’s neck, Liverpool will not be making any bids for him – £60m or otherwise.
Klopp has already added Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson to his side this summer but the need to sign another defender is obvious. The club were prepared to offer £140m to land Van Dijk and Keita but if the other clubs involved simply do not wish to sell then there’s very little that the Reds can do about it.