Dagger in every fan’s heart
Reading the apology to Southampton over ‘misunderstanding’ on the Virgil van Dijk pursuit felt like a dagger being jammed into a heart for all Liverpool supporters – the author of this article included – who hoped that the Reds were finally sitting on the verge of acquiring a top signing that would instantly elevate the profile of Jurgen Klopp’s team.
Adding insult to injury, Southampton are planning to pursue their complaint to the Premier League over an alleged illegal approach for Dutch defender after the British media reported that Virgil van Dijk had met Jurgen Klopp, presumably without the appropriate permission from his club.
And just like that, every Liverpool fan’s face went from a wide smile over reports that Anfield was Van Dijk’s preferred destination, to desperately long face over yet another PR debacle which could end up costing Liverpool much more than Fenway Sports Group (FSG) would even care to comprehend.
Never caring enough to learn from their mistakes, FSG have failed to draw lessons from repeated mistakes such was the personal apology sent by chairman Tom Werner to Fulham owner Mohamed al Fayed over a wrongly claimed Clint Dempsey transfer back in 2012.
Recurring mistakes from FSG
Rewinding the clock to 2011, there is the Luis Suarez’s ban thing and the inappropriate shirt protest, which was again followed by John W Henry’s apologetic call to Phil Gartside over Ian Ayre’s comments relating Bolton’s supposed appeal of foreign TV viewers.
Having failed to follow the standard business procedures on several occasions, the FSG have done great damage to already-marred Liverpool reputation, which Reds have seemingly begun to rebuild under the smokescreen provided by charismatic Jurgen Klopp.
Repercussions of the latest fiasco will have a much deeper effect however as Van Dijk drama will be much more than a PR blow.
With Liverpool back in the Champions League and anticipating fans waiting for a strong reaction from the transfer-related point of view, this Van Dijk incident will have done great damage to Liverpool’s chances of landing the top-class players this summer. As for Virgil van Dijk himself, Manchester City have now been installed as 5/4 favourites to land the sought-after Dutch defender.
Scepticism about the capabilities of the people that run Liverpool reflect badly on the club’s position on the market and can be a major put-off for possible high-profile recruitment.
Die-hard fans who still can’t comprehend the full scope of the embarrassment brought upon their beloved club by FSG can only hope for a miracle.
Though quite rare, miracles Liverpool fans need have happened before.
Thiago Silva paralel (not) plausible
Paris Saint-Germain’s chase of Thiago Silva can draw plenty of parallels with Liverpool’s chase of Southampton defender and, however far-fetched it may sound – it can stand as something firm to hold on.
Almost exactly five years ago, on 14 June 2012, PSG publicly announced their decision to pull back from negotiations with AC Milan over the potential transfer of Thiago Silva. With Silvio Berlusconi theatrically confirming that Silva would not be going anywhere, Rossoneri offered their star player a new contract which he signed, pledging his future to Milan until 2017.
And then, exactly one month later, the French giants signed the Brazilian defender.
The biggest difference in Thiago Silva and Virgil van Dijk’s cases are Milan and Southampton’s standing points. The Italians were just playing hardball with the Parisians, attempting – and ultimately succeeding – to draw more money from the French giants.
In addition to selling Silva, AC Milan also gave up on their biggest star at the time – Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who followed the Brazilian defender in a combined deal worth €80 million. Rossoneri were struggling financially and were forced to sell, which is one major and potentially crucial difference in two cases.
What Liverpool fans can hope, however, is that the player himself would put pressure on the club hierarchy during the summer. Southampton are set to sack Claud Puel and much will depend on the name of their next manager as well.
Let’s hope that with their latest debacle Liverpool haven’t priced themselves out of the any potential deal for the highly-rated defender.
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