What started as a hugely optimistic week in Liverpool’s summer transfer plans has come crashing down in the most embarrassing fashion.
On Monday, Liverpool were hopeful of agreeing a fee for Mohamed Salah, with the Egyptian high on the list of priorities to add some extra fire power to Jurgen’s team ahead of a new campaign. With 19 goals this season in all competitions, Salah would bring acceleration and flair to the table – two ideal assets in breaking down packed defences at home.
That was swiftly followed by Tuesday’s news that Virgil Van Dijk had chosen Liverpool over Chelsea and Manchester City as his preferred destination. The Dutchman was reportedly keen to work under Klopp’s guidance as part of the German’s long-term project and the prospect of being the linchpin of the side was clearly one that watered his appetite.
With the transfer window bringing rife hysteria among fans despite it only being June 7th, this was obviously a time of huge relief. Klopp was set to bag his primary defensive target in order to stabilise what has been a rocky and unreliable back four in recent years.
But Liverpool fans never get a happy ending, do they?
Such seems the case here, with the club issuing a formal statement declaring they have now dropped interest in the Dutch international after Southampton reported them for an ‘illegal approach’.
The Saints do have somewhat of a history to their name of threatening legal action, with deals for Callum Chambers, Toby Alderweireld and Nathaniel Clyne all venturing down a similar path. However, this time they seem to have had the ammunition to scare The Reds.
It has been reported that Van Dijk met Klopp in Blackpool to discuss a possible transfer to Merseyside this summer, thereby compromising the Premier League’s rules on tapping up. Consequently, Liverpool have since released a statement apologising to Southampton over a “misunderstanding” regarding their pursuit of the defender.
“Liverpool Football Club would like to put on record our regret over recent media speculation regarding Southampton Football Club and player transfers between the two clubs.”
“We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk. We respect Southampton’s position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player.”
Embarrassing for all involved with the club, serious questions must be asked as to how on earth Liverpool let such leaks end what looked a really promising summer acquisition.
An astronomical fee for Van Dijk aside, Liverpool would have looked a completely different prospect with such an authoritative figurehead at the spine of their defence. Thus, to lose out on such a quality layer represents a hammer blow for the club – not to mention that the whole situation has been handled with such indignity.
What’s more worrying is the amount of times this has happened – an embarrassing apology was given to Fulham over Clint Dempsey back in December 2012 after a similar tapping up complaint, while Liverpool were recently banned from signing academy players and fined £100,000 over their pursuit of a 12-year-old Stoke City player in April.
Enough is enough now. Once a team with a reputation for their impeccable and highly professional business, Liverpool now find themselves looking more and more amateurish by the hour.
That cannot be allowed to continue going forward. Jurgen will demand better, and Jurgen deserves better. Us fans deserve better.
This summer was always going to be a huge one for Liverpool and having got off to such a catastrophic start, the pressure just continues to mount. The club need to come out swinging and get down to business now – preferably without any more embarrassment.