Virgil van Dijk

Getty Images

Virgil van Dijk makes comeback for Southampton

Leave a comment

Southampton’s star center back Virgil Van Dijk was back in action for the first time in over eight months.

It wasn’t pretty, but he’s back.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Van Dijk, 26, has been out since Jan. 22 when he suffered a season-ending foot injury in a win against Leicester City.

Since then van Dijk has been chased by Liverpool, Chelsea and others with the Saints captain putting in a transfer request to leave Southampton but the club held firm and held on to him in the summer transfer window.

With the transfer window now closed, VVD was back in training with the first team last week after previously being banished to train on his own or with the reserves.

On Monday he played in Southampton U-23’s 4-0 defeat against Aston Villa. Saints conceded two goals in each half and van Dijk was caught out on Villa’s first, second and fourth goals.

Below you can see videos of all four goals, with van Dijk particularly laid back on Villa’s first goal after he stepped up but was beaten in a challenge and then failed to recover as he strolled back into position.

It was previously thought van Dijk may return to Saints’ team this weekend against Crystal Palace (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via but judging by this performance he seems a little rusty.

That’s to be expected after a long, and unsettling, period out of the team but VVD is widely-regarded as the best center back in the Premier League. Hmmm.

Southampton stay strong on Virgil van Dijk

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Virgil Van Dijk has been seen leaving Southampton’s Staplewood training ground on Thursday, but it won’t be for the last time.

[ STREAM: Deadline Day show ] 

The 26-year-old Dutchman handed in a transfer request earlier this month to try and force through a move away from Saints and it appears highly unlikely that he will leave St Mary’s in the final hours of the window on Deadline Day.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that there has been “no change” in Southampton’s stance that Virgil van Dijk will not be sold this summer.

With Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and others said to be interested in the classy center back — Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool publicly apologized in June amid reports linking them with a private, unsanctioned meeting with van Dijk and they then subsequently dropped their interest — VVD will now face the prospect of getting his head down and playing for Southampton at least until January.

[ LIVE: Follow all the transfer deals ] 

If van Dijk — who signed a new six-year deal at Southampton last summer — refuses to return to training with the first team then Saints will also be happy for him to continue to train with the youth team, just as he has been for most of preseason after new manager Mauricio Pellegrino confirmed he was not committed to the team and wanted to leave.

The ball is now in VVD’s court and in a World Cup year where he is sure to be a starter for the Netherlands if they qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia, not playing games would be hugely detrimental for the Dutchman’s career.

In theory if he doesn’t play for Saints then his value may not be impacted too much, especially as he hasn’t kicked a ball since January following a foot injury which ruled him out of the second half of last season.

Van Dijk is the team captain at Saints and even though club captain Steven Davis has suggested he would be welcome back with open arms after his exile to the youth team, it appears that this would be a very tough situation to come back from given VVD’s public condemnation of the club.

For a player of his caliber Southampton will surely make an exception but the next few days, if he doesn’t leave before the deadline, as expected, will be incredibly telling to how this saga will play out over the coming months.

Fans of every other club apart from Liverpool have applauded Saints’ strong stance on van Dijk this summer as “player power” had been spiraling out of control for some time.

With van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool amid the Barcelona interested and even Alexis Sanchez likely staying at Arsenal, it appears clubs are starting to wrestle back some of the power this summer more than most.

Van Dijk’s situation epitomizes the “enough is enough” approach when it comes to transfers and players downing tools when they feel like it.

Southampton lands $19 million Dutch CB Hoedt

Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images
1 Comment

Southampton’s added another defender who checks all the boxes, and used its press release to cement its status on the future of want-away center back Virgil Van Dijk.

Saints added Lazio center back Wesley Hoedt on Tuesday, with the reported fee in the neighborhood of $19 million for the 4-times capped Dutch international.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Gooch scores for Sunderland ]

The 6-foot-4 defender is 23 years old, and played 23 matches for i Biancocelesti last season.

Here’s Saints vice chairman Les Reed:

“Finding a naturally left-footed player is even more difficult. We have been tracking central defenders on our target list for the past 12 months and Wesley has always been at the top of that list, so it was important to act when the opportunity came.”

As our own Joe Prince-Wright pointed out, Saints aren’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for Van Dijk’s departure.

Saints also have Maya Yoshida — who won a penalty for Saints this weekend — Jack Stephens, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek and Florin Gardos in their corps.

Will Van Dijk stay? Betting sites have him at 5:6 odds to stay at Southampton, but somehow 1:1 to join Liverpool and 7:1 to head to Chelsea (Man City gets 24:1 odds).

At this point, we’d love to see Van Dijk stay and buck the summer’s (actually much longer than that) gossip as Saints fight for a Top Six place.

Van Dijk hands in transfer request after learning of wage fine

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Virgil Van Dijk has handed in a formal transfer request to Southampton, a move inspired by a fine of two weeks’ wages from the Premier League club.

The towering and influential center back says he’s made no secret of his desire to leave St. Mary’s for bigger challenges, and that Saints have known of his desire for six months.

It’s been a messy situation, one that extends beyond Van Dijk’s saga with Liverpool. That saw the Reds threatened with legal action, as the Merseyside club apologized for interfering in Van Dijk’s time at Southampton.

[ JPW AT WEMBLEY: 3 things from Community Shield ]

A source close to Van Dijk claimed on July 25 that the center back would be with Liverpool by the end of the transfer window.

A price tag of close to $70 million sits on Van Dijk, and Southampton has added center back Jan Bednarek from Lech Poznan on this summer. The club also has Maya Yoshida, Jack Stephens, and Florian Gardos in its ranks.

Van Dijk said in a statement that “multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed” in their pursuit of his services. In addition to Liverpool, Chelsea has been linked with a move for the former Celtic back.

This could have lower key resonance to the Neymar transfer saga, as $70 million is a lot to spend but Southampton are wise investors. Should Saints sell Van Dijk, it’s unlikely they’ll leap heavily into the transfer market.

Southampton has been linked with Juventus’ Mario Lemina and Benfica’s Andre Almeida, two versatile players who would cost a total of $32 million.

Transfer rumor roundup: Van Dijk to Chelsea? Roma make another Mahrez bid

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool faces some stiff competition for the services of Virgil Van Dijk, and it could puts the Reds out of the running for their man.

[ MORE: Neymar won’t make PSG debut on Saturday ]

Chelsea is reportedly willing to spend $65 million to acquire the Southampton defender, according to the Times.

The Blues have had interest in Van Dijk previously, and Antonio Conte‘s side could potentially recruit the Dutchman to Stamford Bridge given Southampton’s poor relations with Liverpool.

The Sun has reported that Saints are more willing to sell Van Dijk to Chelsea for that very reason. Southampton had previously threatened to report the Reds to the Premier League for illegally approaching Van Dijk in the quest of signing him.

Roma’s interest in a particular Leicester attacker has been noted this summer, and the Italian giants appear willing to do just about anything to secure the services of this player.

Sky Sports Italia is reporting that Roma has made a third bid for Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez, with the latest offer coming in at over $41 million.

Mahrez has expressed his interest in getting out of the King Power Stadium after the club took a noticeable step back in 2016/17 following their Premier League title the season prior.

The Algerian international’s production dropped last season as part of the Foxes’ struggles, with the 26-year-old totaling just 10 goals in 48 appearances across all competitions.

Inter Milan is reportedly on the brink of signing a promising Borussia Dortmund midfielder after he struggled to crack the German side’s starting XI.

Sky Sports Italia is reporting that Emre Mor will likely be joining Inter for a $23 million fee as the 20-year-old looks for steady playing time with the Serie A side.

The Danish international made just 12 league appearances last season for Dortmund, and scored once in that span.

Barcelona is actively seeking a replacement for Neymar, and Ousmane Dembele continues to be a name circulating around the Spanish giants.

L’Equipe is reporting that the Dortmund attacker is at the top of Barca’s list to replace the Brazilian forward just as La Liga gets ready to start up.