In January this year, Virgil van Dijk was named team captain of Southampton. Fast forward to August, barely seven months on, the Dutchman is so fed up with life at the St Mary’s he’s handed in a transfer request to that effect. But what are the implications of Van Dijk’s action?
One centre-back pairing I came to admire during the early stages of the 2016-17 season was that of Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk. While Fonte, 33, offered a rich blend of experience, pace and tenacity, van Dijk, 26, was the powerhouse who could chase down attackers, be a bully in the air and sweep with guile – the libero every coach craves.
You can’t hide gold for long; both players soon became highly sought-after in the Premier League. Jose Fonte was the first to get his head turned. Despite being skipper of The Saints, he handed in a transfer request and noiselessly signed the dotted line for West Ham; £8million was the price that seemed fair enough for the Saints to let their captain walk.
The same scenario is playing out again. This time, another Southampton skipper has handed in a transfer request. The Dutchman must’ve been thrilled by the interest in his services from the crème de la crème of the Premier League. Perhaps he had received calls from some of these top clubs – Liverpool being a prime culprit. But alas, Southampton were not interested in losing another captain to PL money-bags in less than eight months.
Without a doubt, Virgil van Dijk is an ambitious player, one who aspires to play at the highest level and retire with a cabinet stocked with silverware. No offence to Southampton, but they can’t really offer that to the Dutchman. But the Saints won’t let him go. They’ve so far rebuffed all attempts made to lure the player from the Saint Mary’s, much to the repugnance of Van Dijk.
The stalemate has hitherto forced the Dutchman to hand in a transfer request and verbally declare he wants to leave the club. Among many things, the former Celtic defender is livid at the club’s stance that he’s not for sale. He said per BBC:
“I have been left frustrated by the club’s position that I am not for sale and am disappointed that enquiries from multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed.
“I am incredibly ambitious and want to achieve as much as I possibly can to fulfil my potential in what is a very short career as a professional footballer.”
In football, when a player hands in a transfer request, it causes a ripple effect that usually ends with fans loathing the player and the player leaving the club. Van Dijk’s frame of mind has been brought to question by his club; that notwithstanding, there are other consequences of his decision.
A bidding war begins
Who gets their hands on Southampton’s prized asset? If John stones could go for £50 million, then Virgil van Dijk is worth at least £10 million more; OK, he doesn’t contribute to the homegrown player’s quota, so £50 million might just be his price. Whatever the case, Van Dijk’s transfer request would start a bidding war that could include top sides like Chelsea, Manchester City and even the blacklisted Liverpool.
Maybe this time, a Netherlands international breaks the record for the most expensive defender in world football.
The Saints must cash in on him
If you’re a Southampton fan, you must be wondering why your club always sells its best players. Adam Lallana, Sadio Mané, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Calum Chambers, Luke Shaw, Victor Wanyama, the names simply roll out the tongue. Virgil van Dijk’s transfer request means he’s set to follow suit.
Quite frankly, the centre-back’s transfer request has forced Southampton’s hand. They must now cash in on yet another player desperate for Champions League football or deal with an unhappy and uncommitted player.
It’s all about Virgil van Dijk’s ambition here; Southampton is helpless in my opinion.