Virgil van Dijk disclosed Man Utd transfer blunder to teammate in private conversation
The Dutchman joined the Reds in 2018 for a club record sum of £75 million, with many supporters believing they overpaid for the former Southampton player.
Five years later, he is widely seen as a steal, having helped Liverpool win the Premier League and the Champions League.
Van Dijk, now 30, was apparently close to joining old rivals Manchester United, but the club instead signed Victor Lindelof.
Van Dijk disclosed Manchester United’s interest in Austin.
Former Southampton striker Charlie Austin revealed the Red Devils’ interest in a private discussion he had with the defender while they were teammates at St Mary’s.
“I recall the back end of his Southampton career, we were on the bench together against Chelsea away,” Austin told talkSPORT last year. ‘Come on, Virgil, what’s going on, surely Man Utd must’ve been interested in you,’ I replied as I sat there. Massive English club, etc.’
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“He said, ‘you know what Chaz, in the summer it was like between more or Lindelof and they signed Lindelof’. I was like, ‘you are joking!’ Nobody knows that, 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.”
The ‘heart of Van Dijk was fixed on Liverpool.’
Austin went on to discuss Van Dijk’s acrimonious departure from Southampton after attempting to push a move to Anfield, which he finally got.
“The manager was there at the time, Pellegrini, and he was planning to go in the summer,” he said.
“I remember him getting everybody in pre-season, got us all around, everyone on the pitch including Virg and just came out and said, ‘look lads, Virgil wants to go, the club are not allowing him to go, he’s said he’s not going to play so he’s going to train with us’.
“In front of everybody, including Virgil. He was more gobsmacked because no heads up from the manager, nothing. You’re going to go over there and train with the fitness coach and the physio.
“It was more down the line of stamping his authority, what he had to do, albeit he did move in the summer, two days later the transfer window shut and Virg was starting on the Saturday.
“He apologised to the lads but the lads were just like, ‘Virg, we understand, you were linked with Liverpool, you wanted to go, it’s fine by us’, but we were happy he was still there because of the quality he brought.”
“I’m not sure, I believe he had his heart set on coming to Liverpool,” Austin said when asked if Van Dijk would have joined United.