Reports: €67.4 million superstar set to reject Liverpool for Barcelona in January
Is he the final piece of Ernesto Valverde's FC Barcelona jigsaw?
What's the story?
It appears Liverpool will never see the end of Barcelona and the troubles they have caused them in the transfer market. No, not Philippe Coutinho - not this time - but they are out to ruin Liverpool's rather drawn out pursuit of their number 1. target - Virgil Van Dijk.
As per the good folk over at the Mirror, it appears the disgruntled Southampton man (who is rated at around £60 million, or €67.4 million by the Saints)- who is desperate to move to a Champions League club, a level he believes reflects is on - is all set on rejecting any chance of moving to Liverpool by moving across the continent to Barcelona.
In case you didn't know
Southampton, of course, were unhappy with Liverpool's rather brazen approach for Van Dijk over the summer, and before that (with reports of tapping up) and the Merseysiders had been forced to issue a public apology.
This is what the statement read, “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.”
The Dutch defender, meanwhile, broke his silence on the matter earlier this season and saying he had no regrets had stated - "Halfway through the season, maybe we can see what’s possible.” and Liverpool are still hopeful of a January move... were that is, now that Barcelona have arrived on the scene as a spoilsport.
The heart of the matter
Barcelona's defensive woes are well documented and despite Samuel Umtiti's marked improvement this season they still lack depth and quality in the centre-back position. Van Dijk, a tall strong defender who is unusually comfortable with the ball at his feet is, of course, a natural fit and he would make Barcelona a much more complete team - plugging their one biggest weakness.
Hence the Catalans' interest.
Here's the Dutch defender in action:
He'd slot in superbly next to Gerard Pique, wouldn't he? And he'd make them a formidable force in the air, the one option they generally don't have.
Van Dijk would be a natural fit at Barcelona, and with Southampton adamant in their decision not to sell to Liverpool, they may well agree to the move to Catalunya. It remains to be seen however whether the Dutchman would want to uproot himself and move to a new nation and an entirely different football culture.