This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Virgil van Dijk has told Goal.com it was his “gut feeling” that convinced him to move to Liverpool in 2018 after several clubs were interested in him.
The Netherlands international joined Southampton in January of 2018 for a fee of £75m, which was a world-record fee for a defender at the time.
However, the former Celtic defender chose Anfield, and explained why to Goal.com after winning an award from them:
“I made the decision based on many things. My [gut] feeling is always the most important thing, and the feeling I got from [Liverpool] was very good from the first second I heard they were interested.
“The other clubs that were interested as well, I was definitely happy and flattered as well, but Liverpool were the strongest in multiple factors, whether it was the coach, the players, the whole system we play, the fans, the culture of the club, the whole feeling that everyone has here, and the way we plan towards the future as well.
“That was always important for me to be a part of the coming years. I have been here almost two years now and so far, so good.”
Van Dijk’s impact on Merseyside cannot be understated. Since he has been with the club, Jurgen Klopp and co have reached two Champions League finals, winning one, whilst they have also come within touching distance of the Premier League title.
This year, they are favourites to lift the trophy for the first time in 30 years as they currently lead the table by eight points. It is hard to imagine that this would have been possible without the defender, and Liverpool can count their lucky stars that he chose to join them.
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However, we must not forget the manner in which he departed the Saints.
The Reds wanted to sign him in the summer of 2017, but Southampton were keen to hold on to his services, especially after Liverpool were forced to apologise for the way they pursued him. Van Dijk then refused to play for Southampton during pre-season before handing in a transfer request. As such, he left St. Mary’s Stadium on a sour note.
The “so far, so good” comments are interesting. For now, there would be no need for van Dijk to leave the European champions. As it stands, there are very few better places to be, if any, in world football.
However, what happens if Liverpool do win the Premier League this term? What if Mohamed Salah leaves for Real Madrid, with whom he has been linked, in the summer? The first would leave the £90m-valued man – as per Transfermarkt – with little else to achieve at Anfield, whilst the latter would considerably weaken the team. Both are very possible.
Considering his track record, it is not hard to imagine him pushing for a move elsewhere if he feels his time is up at Liverpool. In August two years ago, he said he is “incredibly ambitious“. Surely the possibility of winning La Liga with Real Madrid or Barcelona, for example, would be too hard to turn down?
For now, there are no such worries, but the club and the supporters would be naive to think that he will stay with the side no matter what. History tells us that when he wants a move, he will stop at nothing to achieve it, especially when his “gut feeling” tells him it is the right thing to do.