With only hours left until the transfer window slams shut, Sky Sports have confirmed what has seemed increasingly likely in that Southampton central defender Virgil Van Dijk will not be leaving the club this summer.
Since the start of the season, the defender has been training with the under 23s squad after boss Mauricio Pellegrino revealed that he was not in the right frame of mind. It is currently unclear whether that will continue or if Van Dijk will return to the fold for the newly appointed manager.
With big money reportedly on the table, it is a real statement from the Saints. Having developed a reputation as a selling club, they have finally held on to one of their key player after years of losing them. On many occasions, those key players have departed for Anfield, something the club were increasingly reluctant to avoid this summer.
For Liverpool, it means that the club will most likely go without adding a new centre-back to the squad this summer, with Andrew Robertson the only defender to arrive from Hull. That will be a huge disappointment for many Reds fans, with a leaky defence having cost their side on several occasions both last season and early on this season too.
Southampton could now look to build their defence around Van Dijk, with the likes of Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens having stepped in whilst he was sidelined by an ankle injury since January.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to the news:
— Fresh Saints (@FreshSaints) August 31, 2017
— FM Saints Researcher (@MatthewLeGod) August 31, 2017
— Nick Thompson (@NickThompson20) August 31, 2017
Liverpool fans weren’t happy…
2 FUCKING months to bring in a centre back. 2 whole fucking months, but apparently Van Dijk is the only defender in the world.
— – (@AnfieldRd96) August 31, 2017
Seven nervy hours to go and still not a whisper about Van Dijk. Somewhere, Dejan Lovren puts the champagne on ice.
— Liverpool Offside (@LFCOffside) August 31, 2017
The news we've been dreading all summer has finally been 100% confirmed: Virgil van Dijk is staying at Southampton. pic.twitter.com/uOSHWY8HQd
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) August 31, 2017
ITKs who promised Van Dijk all summer….. pic.twitter.com/XHAs9D10Q1
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) August 31, 2017
I'm sorry but I can't quite workout selling Sakho when we are already short on centre backs. Especially with no Van Dijk coming in ?
— Anfield Leak (@AnfieldLeak) August 31, 2017
But their rivals found it hilarious…
Liverpool & Van Dijk are like that couple that everyone knows should be together, but can't because of a crazy ex who won't let go
— SMO (@SalahCanWait) August 31, 2017
For a minute, I was scared of Liverpool. I feel unbelievably relieved that they didn't land Van Dijk or Lemar.
— Jordan Clarke (@FourFourJordan) August 31, 2017
BREAKING: Virgil Van Dijk will stay at Southampton this season.
Liverpool fans: pic.twitter.com/Nha3ND5f7j
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) August 31, 2017
And the hype was a perfect summary for deadline day…
Exciting few hours ahead with Virgil van Dijk, Alexis Sanchez, Thomas Lemar and Philippe Coutinho all set to go absolutely nowhere.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOE_UK) August 31, 2017
Xherdan Shaqiri should join Southampton and continue in his best role
The Swiss international is wanted by a number of clubs, including Southampton.
It looks as though Xherdan Shaqiri will be on the move this summer. The Swiss star suffered relegation with Stoke City last season and is not prepared to play in the Championship. The news he could be on his way has attracted plenty of attention, with the latest reports suggesting it is Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton who are leading the race for his signature.
The Mirror reported this week that both Spurs and Southampton are keen on activating his bargain release clause of £12 million this summer.
The lure of playing for Spurs will no doubt be a feature for Shaqiri. They can offer the Champions League football he probably craves.
But he should choose Southampton instead.
Why? Here’s why?
Shaqiri thrives as a big fish in a smaller pond. During his time at hometown club FC Basel he was unstoppable and at Stoke he has been in similar form. With regular football and responsibility the 26-year-old thrives and can but in match-winning performances.
In the past, when playing for the bigger sides, he has found himself lost. At Bayern Munich he played a substitute role for his three seasons in Bavaria. Once he had enough of that, he headed to Inter Milan – another European giant.
Rightly so. In terms of talent, Shaqiri is good enough for such teams. However, again he found himself a bit-part player at the San Siro, coming off the bench more than he started.
The fact is Shaqiri is something of a luxury player and, if a team is not built around him, he does not thrive.
Southampton would automatically make him the star of their team. With the presence of his former Stoke boss Mark Hughes also a factor, then Southampton is obviously the best choice for the mercurial attacker.
Alex McCarthy isn’t the signing of intent Tottenham need
The 28-year-old has attracted a lot of attention since he replaced Fraser Forster between the sticks for the Saints earlier this season and was crucial in ensuring Southampton stayed in the Premier League.
A return to London may tempt the former Crystal Palace keeper. However, it doesn’t seem like a transfer that will suit either party.
Hugo Lloris is still one of the most respected keepers in world football and McCarthy, although impressive this season, isn’t a player capable of replacing the France national team captain. The two are similar in age and the difference in current ability is substantial.
The Mirror‘s report also states Michel Vorm’s contract is coming up to its final year so McCarthy could be seen as a potential replacement for the Dutchman. However, Paulo Gazzaniga has emerged as a solid candidate for that secondary role after his MOTM performance against Crystal Palace in November.
If Tottenham are to kick on and try and keep the pace with City, then signings are crucial. Their season could very much depend on the business they get done this summer and signings like McCarthy will not excite fans in the slightest.
Liverpool‘s first signing saw them break the bank to sign Fabinho, a talent who has shone in Europe the last few years, and maybe Pochettino should be ensuring the Lilywhites are after the same calibre of player considering the club finished in the top-three for the third successive season.
Sam McQueen linked but losing Joe Bryan would hurt Bristol City
The Englishman has been at Ashton Gate since 15 years of age.
According to the Bristol Post, Bristol City are being linked with Southampton‘s Sam McQueen as the club’s replacement for full-back Joe Bryan, meaning the South-West club could be preparing for life without the 24-year-old, who has made over 229 appearances for the club.
The Robins ultimately look set to lose Bryan during the summer transfer window with Burnley, Everton and Aston Villa all keen on signing the left-back. With only a year left on his contract at Ashton Gate, the club could be tempted to cash-in for the home grown defender, for a fee of around £6 million.
Despite McQueen being a sensible replacement for City, his arrival wouldn’t quite soften the blow of losing Bryan, who has quickly established himself as one of the best all-round defenders in the EFL Championship.
The full-back has been with the side since he was 15 years of age and has gone on to become one of their most important players. Many will remember the 24-year-old’s wonder strike to help beat Premier League giants Manchester United in the Carabao Cup quarter-final, after a display that saw him named man-of-the-match.
Losing a player of his calibre will not help the club’s attempts to challenge for the play-offs next season. Considering the club were in contention for a top two place as recently as Christmas, it is difficult to comprehend the board selling one of their best players.
The Robins sat second in the Championship during the festive period but went on to finish a disappointing 11th after only picking up 20 points from their final 22 games.
Lee Johnson reportedly sees McQueen, who was told he can quite St Mary’s this summer, as the most likely replacement for Bryan this summer, if the right offer comes in for the latter’s services.
The Saints defender played 22 times in the 2017/18 season, mostly from the bench, but is a player who could definitely prove his worth.
At 23, he still has years to improve and with a full Championship season under his belt, he could emerge a shrewd replacement for long-term servant Bryan.
However, the news won’t float well with City fans who would prefer to keep their homegrown player, rather than attempt to replace him.
Nonetheless, with a year left on his contract, cashing in on the £6 million talent, while bringing in Sam McQueen, could prove a smart piece of business from the Robins.
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