We first discussed deals for Naby Keita and Virgil Van Dijk on AnfieldEdition way back in April, obviously as the rumour mill began before the window officially opened. Over the past month, possibly longer should we consider the Van Dijk tapping up, these transfer have been grotesquely dragged out, with no real progress being made other than unsettling the players.
With both players making their interest in Liverpool concrete, why have these transfer been stagnant for so long, and where does the fault lie? Much can be said of Liverpool’s negotiations with clubs that state the player is not for sale, at any cost. This was stressed often by Southampton and RB Leipzig, yet Liverpool continued to bid upscale each time, attempting to bully the clubs into selling with cold hard cash.
Liverpool even issued a public apology to Southampton over the interest in Van Dijk, but yet we continue to fight for his signature? The statement clearly says “We respect Southampton’s position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player.” which was clearly an embarrassing lie to escape any legal action against the club. Any further interest appears useless, with Southampton gaining power over the player tapping up, and Liverpool’s exploitation of the clubs best players in recent years, no wonder Southampton have drew the line on this transfer.
Reports emerging from Sky Sports state that a source close to Van Dijk expects him to be a Liverpool player by the end of the window, so it may go through after all. As for Keita, numerous representatives at Leipzig have stated the Guinea player is not for sale at any price, with Liverpool lodging three bids if reports are to be believed, riding on the confidence that the player wants a move and cash will be the convincer.
With the player involved in a training ground bust up this week, all the club have achieved is disgruntling a player where a move may not even materialise. While I have more faith in this transfer than the Van Dijk move, Liverpool’s bullying approach and failure to seal the deal even with these methods must be scrutinised. Liverpool’s business this summer has been lethargic, and ultimately, fault can be placed in multiple areas.
Starting with the owners, FSG have been scapegoats a plethora of times since their arrival, and previous windows they have not given the club the amount of money to compete, but this summer are they in the wrong? They’ve provided the club with the funds to go out and acquire the targets needed, as shown by the £37m (including add-ons) spent on Salah which will eventually be a club record fee, should it not be broken again this summer. Deals for Keita and Van Dijk could equate to £150m+ should rumoured fees be believed, so is criticism of them justified for deals not going over the line? In my humble opinion, no fault can be placed on FSG this time around.
The sporting director Michael Edwards and even Jurgen Klopp himself can be blamed more so, as failure to negotiate swiftly and a lack of alternatives could leave Liverpool empty handed when the season starts. Like a dog barking up the same tree, Liverpool have chased Keita and VVD when there may be available alternatives elsewhere.
I discussed possible alternatives in my Plan B article, and the club have failed to identify any alternatives, hedging all their bets on these two deals. A clear-fire mistake in the modern transfer market, especially considering the funds that the club is backed with, almost any player should be available, yet stubbornness seems to have prevailed, and we will go for Keita and VVD, or bust.