Southampton defender Virgil van Djik has broken his silence and released a statement making it clear he is desperate to leave the club having spoken with the powers that be at St. Mary’s about leaving for six months and getting nowhere.
The Dutchman, who has been linked with Liverpool since January, enjoyed the best season of his career last term, despite having his campaign prematurely ended thanks to an injury against Leicester City just after Christmas.
The 26-year-old, however, was at the centre of a tapping up scandal with the Reds being accused of approaching the Saints captain before permission was allowed by his current club, which resulted in the Anfield club officially withdrawing their interest earlier this summer.
With that in mind, Premier League champions Chelsea are now also circling as manager Antonio Conte looks to bolster his squad ahead of a title defence and return the Champions League this season, with his side looking far too thin to improve on their record last term.
Given the breakdown in a relationship between the Saints and the powers that be at Anfield, with the southerners seemingly haven reached their end with the persistent summer visits, a deal with the champions is the preferred options should Van Dijk be sold, despite the club’s persistent stance that he is going nowhere.
Southampton’s displeasure with the Reds stems from the last three or four summers which have seen all of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and most recently Sadio Mane swap the Solent for the Mersey, while losing a host of other top players as a result of bigger clubs turning their heads.
Liverpool remain favourites to land the former Celtic man and betting sites like Bet Way offer odds of 8/15, though given Conte’s desperation to bring in top targets and the situation surrounding the Reds’ statement, it could be tricky to pull something off.
With that in mind, it would be remiss of Jurgen Klopp to not take a look at the other options available to him this summer, and here are three that he could well chase…
Stefan de Vrij
The 25-year-old, a compatriot of Van Dijk, has been linked with Liverpool for some time now and, while his international teammate is probably the more technically advanced would not be far off in terms of defensive ability.
According to Whoscored.com the Lazio man is a proficient stopper of the ball, something the Reds are in desperate need of given their rather leaky showings last term.
Furthermore, with asking prices in the Premier League rocketing this summer, and the Saints’ stance over their captain, De Vrij could come at less than half price.
This could be a tough one. The Bayern Munich man has performed remarkably when given the chance and would be difficult to prize from Carlo Ancelotti this summer.
However, the 22-year-old has put pressure on the German giants ahead of the new season, warning that he is in need of more playing time, something you feel Liverpool would be more than happy to offer to a player who seamlessly made the step up to top level football with the Bundesliga outfit.
With that in mind, Klopp could well swoop in and see if there is the chance of turning the defender’s head with the mention of regular football and the riches of the Premier League, despite the size and stature of his current employers.
A bit of a gamble this one, however, the Englishman – who was handed a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad last season – had a maiden Premier League campaign to remember last term, on a personal level at least.
While Boro’s inability to find the back of the net saw them drop straight back down to the Championship, Gibson’s form at the back was exemplary and earned praise from some of the top managers and pundits.
The 24-year-old looks set to leave the Riverside this summer as mentioned on Talk Sport, with Southampton also mooted as a potential destination, and could be a fantastic addition if given the chance to grow at Anfield this season.
You never know, given a move to St. Mary’s has been mentioned he may well end up a Liverpool player in two seasons anyway, so why not just cut the middle man out.