It was a story that dominated the majority of this summer’s transfer window and future of Virgil van Dijk is set to be up in the air again as clubs prepare for the opening of the January window. It looked like the 26-year-old centre-half was set for a move away from Southampton throughout the summer, but this never materialised, much to Jurgen Klopp’s frustration as the Reds continue to struggle defensively.
However, with the January transfer window now a matter of weeks away, the Southampton defender is beginning to be linked with a number of Premier League clubs once again.
Where could van Dijk’s new destination be?
A number of clubs are said to be interested in the 26-year-old’s services with Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City all having been mentioned. Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has recently stated that it would spell bad news for the competitiveness of the Premier League if van Dijk does opt to join City, who already have an 11 point advantage at the top of the division.
He believes it is vitally important that if the centre-half does move this January, it is not to the Etihad Stadium. He has urged other sides to make sure that this does not happen. One reason why van Dijk may turn down City is if he has doubts about whether he would actually be a regular in their starting line-up with the likes of John Stones, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi all performing for City this season.
Will the Saints allow him to leave?
Southampton still have a significant say in the future of the defender and do not have to rush him out the door. Recent speculation has suggested that they are prepared to hold out for a whopping £60 million for the defender, but this is unlikely to be a figure that puts the likes of City and Chelsea off. They have more than enough financial power to be able to spend this amount of money in the transfer window on a player of van Dijk’s quality.
However, the biggest sign that the defender could be on his way in January came on Saturday afternoon when Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino left him out of his starting line-up for the clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. This is a sign that the defender is already being distracted by links with a move away and Pellegrino admitted that he could be set to leave the club next month.
There is no doubt that if Pep Guardiola is able to lure the defender to the Etihad Stadium next month and beat a host of City’s main rivals to his signature, it could essentially seal the title for his side. As it stands, City already look a force to be reckoned with both domestically and in Europe, and if they were to add van Dijk to their ranks, it is likely to make them an even stronger outfit.
The likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea are in need of a centre-half like van Dijk much more than City, with Liverpool and Arsenal in a battle to secure a place in the top four. Whether van Dijk will take into account his chances of regular game time into consideration when choosing his future club remains to be seen. It will certainly be interesting to see how this story develops over the coming weeks.