The transfer saga involving Virgil van Dijk and Manchester United before his impactful move to Liverpool has become a fascinating tale, shedding light on what could have been.
The Dutch center-back’s £75 million switch from Southampton to Anfield in January 2018 played a crucial role in Liverpool’s subsequent triumphs in the Champions League and Premier League.
However, the story could have unfolded differently, with Manchester United reportedly considering Van Dijk the previous summer. According to Charlie Austin, Van Dijk’s teammate at Southampton at the time, the defender disclosed that United had a direct choice between him and Victor Lindelof but opted for the latter.
In a 2021 talkSPORT interview, Austin recounted the surprising revelation from Van Dijk: “I remember the back end of his Southampton career we were on the bench together at Chelsea away… he told me that on the bench. I couldn’t believe it, I was just as gobsmacked as you.
Obviously, there was talk in the summer he was going to go there then they’ve gone and taken Lindelof instead.”
Austin also provided insights into Van Dijk’s final days at Southampton, where he attempted to force a move to Liverpool. The manager at the time, Pellegrino, addressed the situation in front of the entire squad, revealing Van Dijk’s desire to leave and the club’s refusal.
Despite the challenges, Van Dijk later apologized to his teammates, and his commitment to Southampton continued until the summer transfer window closed.
Reflecting on whether Van Dijk would have joined Manchester United, Austin expressed uncertainty, suggesting that the Dutch defender might have had his heart set on moving to Liverpool.