Virgil van Dijk’s exit from Southampton was a soap opera even for Premier League transfers.
Liverpool originally wanted the defender during the summer transfer window, but Southampton put their foot down and forced the Anfield club into retreat. Leaks to Liverpool’s closest media about Van Dijk agreeing to the move and everything almost being in hand infuriated Southampton who hadn’t given the player permission to speak to anyone else.
Whilst it’s no secret that tapping up often goes on in football, despite the rules, that it was being cockily reported on seemed to push Southampton over the edge.
Van Dijk finally got his move in the winter window and despite all that’s happened, the defender still recognises that Southampton helped build his career.
Speaking to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the Netherlands captain explained: “It’s great how my career is now. Actually, I owe all that to Ronald Koeman, who gave me the chance in the Premier League. Our cooperation has always been pleasant, an enjoyable time and we performed so well with Southampton that we qualified for European football. As a trainer and ex-top defender, he personally taught me a lot as a defender.”
Van Dijk and Koeman now need to find success again as Dutch football enters a crucial phase. Failing to qualify for the World Cup was the result of several years of the national team going into reverse and they now need to move forward.