With Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk currently training with himself and being left out of the pre-season squad, his exit from St Mary’s seems inevitable this summer.
It’s a horrible way to end his two years with the South Coast club, but the reported £50m Southampton could make from his sale will provide some solace.
Where could van Dijk end up?
Liverpool are the favourites to sign Virgil van Dijk this summer, having long shown an interest in the Dutchman. The Reds were forced to make a public apology, however, for an illegal approach for van Dijk which stalled the deal for many weeks. They are frontrunners for his signature but aren’t the only Premier League side interested.
Manchester City are desperate to bolster their backline ahead of the new season. Manager Pep Guardiola has signed Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy at left-back and Tottenham’s Kyle Walker at right-back, but the Sky Blues haven’t strengthened their centre-backs. John Stones lost his place in the side due to poor form but City don’t have a better option in his absence.
Vincent Kompany has struggled with injuries for a number of seasons with Manchester City, while Nicolas Otamendi has struggled with inconsistently since his arrival. City don’t have anyone else to call upon so their interest in van Dijk is believed to be genuine. They certainly have the money to meet any of his demands.
Arsenal are the other Premier League club showing an interest. The Gunners are set to retain their 3-4-2-1 approach next season but they don’t have three trust-worthy centre-backs at their disposal.
Per Mertesacker has made one appearance in the last 12 months, Laurent Koscielny has ongoing injury woes which could limit his game time, Calum Chambers looks set to be sold, Gabriel isn’t a favourite of manager Arsene Wenger’s and Rob Holding remains inexperienced, albeit impressing last season.
It’s unlikely Arsenal will spend in excess of £50m for a defender but they have real reason to be looking at van Dijk.
The Dutchman ticks every box for a Premier League giant
If clubs are going to spend around £50m or more for a player, they’ll want to ensure the player’s a good fit for the Premier League. It’s why domestic deals are so inflated of late and why Southampton can charge so much for their centre-back. Van Dijk would be a tried and tested option for clubs, given his form in the top flight over the last two seasons.
In 2016/17, the 26-year-old made 21 Premier League appearances, averaging a tackle or interception every 20 minutes. Van Dijk helped Southampton to eight clean sheets in the top-flight before his season was cut short due to injury. A powerful and athletic centre-back with great composure on the ball, van Dijk has all the attributes to play for a top side. Virgil van Dijk is 2/5 to join Liverpool this summer, but will it be Merseyside for the Dutchman?
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