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They say the purpose of the darkness is that it makes us appreciate the light. And following a night where publications from opposite corners of the globe had Phil Coutinho packed up and gone, any positive news would have been welcome.
The sun still came up in Liverpool and the headlines improved as the day went on.
“Jurgen insists Liverpool won’t sell Coutinho,” said the Guardian. That’s our Klopp!
Then came the classic James Pearce denial. Get in!
“Phil would like to move to Barcelona, but only if it can be done amicably with Liverpool.” OK, that’s not amazing, but we’ll take it!
Then, like a beam of light from the heavens, at 5:08pm GMT, Paul Joyce came through with this beauty:
Gif of Thierry Henry touching Carra’s leg. Gif of Jeremy Corbyn looking satisfied… you get the idea. We were pleased.
Does this even mean anything? Does Southampton even get a say at this point?
Who cares? There was actual positive news related to this god-awful transfer window that came from a real journalist and not … Hanz.
And it was followed up by an actual, verifiable statement from the player. Not a vague Instagram post or a cryptic statement from his agent … a real, official statement sent out by the player.
Van Dijk writes that Southampton fined him two weeks’ wages. Now that wasn’t very nice was it?
“Over the past six months, I have held numerous discussions with representatives of the board, the former manager, as well as the new manager to inform them all of my desire to leave the club in search of a new challenge.”
This statement poses the question, did Liverpool “tap him up” in the first place? The player makes it sound as if everyone on the Saints end was at least aware of what Van Dijk wanted to do.
“I want to play European football again …”
According to the UEFA website the Southampton FC football club is only involved in domestic competitions. Tough break for them …
“I have consistently relayed my feelings to senior management at Southampton in what I believed to be private and personal conversations. Disappointingly these conversations have regularly found their way into the media.”
What’s that you say? Southampton has been manipulating the media? Impossible. They even have a halo on their shield for God’s sake.
“The time for me to move on is now and I hope to be able to work with the club to find the best resolution to suit all parties.”
Yes! If Liverpool had drafted Virgil Van Dijk’s statement for him it could not have been written any better for the Reds. Maybe they did write it. Who knows?
Now with days remaining before the Premier League season starts and three weeks before the transfer window slams shut, can Liverpool manipulate this development into their favour? Surely Southampton are now under enormous pressure to make a move here. Their media image as the saints of the transfer window has been tarnished quite a bit by this statement. If Van Dijk’s words are true, then they are far less innocent than has been reported up until this point.
With Van Dijk’s statement coming this late in the window and the Saints already having brought in defensive reinforcements you would hope that the timing is ideal for all parties to come up with a workable solution. From the Liverpool side, if the executives at Melwood are feeling anything close to the frustration that the supporters are, they will be more than willing to splash the cash.
Will it happen? There’s still a way to go before that is decided, but for today there is hope again on Merseyside. And after a night where it looked like Liverpool’s season might be falling apart before it even began, we will take it.