John Aldridge's verdict on Liverpool's pursuit of Virgil van Dijk...and his hope for a twist in the tale
John Aldridge admits there are ‘big questions to be answered’ following Liverpool’s bungled pursuit of Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, but he hopes his old club will still be able to complete a £60m deal for the Dutch defender.
Liverpool chiefs were forced to issue a somewhat embarrassing statement on Wednesday after reports suggested the Merseyside club and their manager Jurgen Klopp had staged talks with van Dijk over a £60m transfer.
That followed apparent confirmation from the Dutch defender that he had decided to move to Anfield, inspiring his club to contact the Football Association to investigate whether their player had been ‘tapped up’ by Liverpool.
Aldridge admits Liverpool’s somewhat humiliating public statement apologising to Southampton suggests they may have broken some rules in their pursuit of the 25-year-old, as he suspects the full story has yet to be revealed.
“First of all, tapping up is nothing new in this game and no one who has anything to do with football will be surprised that Liverpool were in contact with van Dijk or his agent,” states Aldridge.
“Clubs talk to agents on the phone all the time and there are a variety of ways to communicate now via Skype or whatever other way if you want to do it discreetly.
“So I can’t see how we get to the point where apologies are being issued from one club to another, which suggests to me there has been a big communications breakdown here somewhere.
“At this point, it looks like there has been a degree of naivety and amateurism in the way Liverpool went about what should have been their biggest signing of this summer, but I would say we should wait a few days or even weeks to understand what exactly went on here.
“The whole thing looks like a bit of a mess at this stage and van Dijk is stuck in the middle of it all wondering what might happen next.”
Liverpool stated in their apology to Southampton that they would withdraw from their attempts to sign van Dijk, but Aldridge is hopeful that deal can be revived.
“The player seems to have decided that he wants to join Liverpool, so I reckon he will now go to Southampton with his agent, tell them he wants to play Champions League football with Liverpool and ask for the move,” he added.
“He will argue that what has gone on between the two clubs is not his fault and should push to join Liverpool because he has clearly made up his mind that he wants to work with Jurgen Klopp.
“As a Liverpool fan, I would be gutted if this deal falls through because van Dijk would have been the perfect partner for Joel Matip next season.
“The team is crying out for a leader at the back, someone who is powerful in the air and will take the team forward. Van Dijk ticks all those boxes so I hope the move can still happen.”