Every transfer window it seems Liverpool fans are subjected to at least one transfer saga that seems to drag for weeks, only for the Reds to fail to sign their target. Such was the case in January this year with Julian Draxler, as was the case last summer with Mario Gotze and even the January window before that with Alex Texeira. Each target identified early on in the window, only for a series of farcical events to see Liverpool miss out on their man.
To many, this summer transfer window is already looking to be more of the same. Aside from the signing of Mohamed Salah, it may well be that the Merseysiders miss out on their primary transfer targets in Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk and Rasen Ballsport (RB) Leipzig’s Naby Keita.
With regards to van Dijk, Liverpool looked certain to make the Dutchman the sixth player in three years to make the switch from St Mary’s to Anfield, only for Southampton to accuse the Reds of ‘tapping up’ the Saints captain. News of conversations between van Dijk and Jurgen Klopp were leaked, and Liverpool were forced to stall on the deal.
In response to this Liverpool issued a public apology expressing regret over events and retracted interest in 26-year-old van Dijk.
Similarly, Guinean midfielder Naby Keita has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks. The 22-year-old has allegedly also expressed a keen interest in leaving his club for Liverpool, only for RB Leipzig’s director of football, Ralf Rangnick, to throw up a smokescreen, stating he will not allow any key players to leave the East German outfit this summer.
Surely then, as far as deals for van Dijk and Keita are concerned, that’s the end of that. Liverpool have been knocked back and should move onto their next target. However, there has been no mention of the Reds targeting any alternative players… Why? Because it’s more than likely that, contrary to public statements, the deals for van Dijk and Keita are far from over.
If you can cast your mind back to last summer when Liverpool were targeting Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski, it came to a point where it was inevitable the deal wouldn’t get across the line. At this point they immediately diverted their attentions to negotiating with Newcastle United in attempts to sign Georginio Wijnaldum.
Furthermore, when it became clear that Mario Gotze wouldn’t be moving to Anfield, Liverpool promptly looked to Sadio Mane as an alternative. Both Wijnaldum and Mane were signed as backups however, the most important lesson that should be taken away from these signings is; as soon as a deal for one player became impossible and new target was identified and pursued.
It remains quite telling that no viable alternatives have even been so much as looked at by Liverpool as the dwindling hours of transfer deadline day begin to draw closer.
While it’s no secret Liverpool, Leipzing and Southampton are playing their cards close to their chest for now, eventually somethings got to give. The most interesting aspect of these transfer sagas remains both van Dijk and Keita’s respective interest in joining Liverpool. With both players having their hearts set on a switch to Merseyside, their managers risk upsetting the dynamic of their teams should they choose not to acquiesce to Liverpool’s advances and hold onto their, potentially unsettled, players.
Furthermore, it’d be hard to foresee either Southampton or Leipzig allowing either of their player’s value to drop over the course of the 2017/18 campaign, only for them to potentially lose them at a cut-rate price the following summer.
As things stand both players are priced up at close to £75million, a princely sum for any club to receive, allowing them to re-invest in talent that could well aid any club in furthering their endeavours in the coming season. Conversely, should they wait a season to cash in on their hot prospects their value could well plummet.
Virgil van Dijk spent the latter half of last season out on the side lines injured and yet still commands a £75million price tag. What if the same were to happen to him in the coming season? Would he still be worth £75million? Absolutely not.
Naby Keita has already chronicled his desire to escape the corporate machine of Red Bull and RB Leipzig and has a buyout clause of £48million. A buyout clause that Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich will no doubt exploit next summer, seeing Keita return to haunt Leipzig twice a year, every year for the next five or so seasons.
Liverpool are the perfect suitors for both van Dijk and Keita, for both the players themselves and their respective current clubs. Van Dijk’s previous suitors have dried up with Manchester United signing Victor Lindelof and Chelsea signing Antonio Rudiger. Leipzig are incentivised to sell to Liverpool so Keita won’t be used against them in future domestic campaigns.
Should both clubs have any sense of how to run a football club or a business, both van Dijk and Keita will become Liverpool players by 31st August 2017. Both players want to join. Both clubs are incentivised to sell. And Liverpool are keen to acquire their targets.
It’s a win-win scenario that would see all parties satisfied and, moreover, see Liverpool turn themselves into real title challengers.