Put yourself in Southampton’s shoes for one minute.
They have a fanbase distraught at continually losing their best player every single year.
We know how it feels to a lesser extent, with the departures of Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Luis Suarez over the past decade – but Southampton are routinely excavated of their talent – especially by Liverpool, who have already spent over £100m on their prized-assets since 2013.
It looks to us like them reporting Liverpool to the Premier League for illegally negotiating with Virgil Van Dijk is predominantly an attempt to save face.
Not only does it make them look like victims to Saints supporters, but it turns the same fans against Van Dijk, too.
Premier League rules are very clear on the aspect of what constitutes an illegal approach:
‘A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player’s current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him. A professional shall only be free to conclude with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. A breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.’
But according to Gareth Williams, and it would surprise us enormously if Liverpool would so blatantly break the rules, we DID notify the Saints of our intentions a few months back:
Liverpool contacted Southampton in March to ask for permission to talk to Van Dijk. This seems like trying to keep the fans happy.
— Gareth Williams (@Shakacarnage) June 6, 2017
To strengthen our claim, this is not the first time Southampton have used such tactics, and in every instance, the player in question has been sold.
In 2015, Southampton threatened Spurs with legal action over their pursuit of Toby Alderweireld [Mirror].
The same year, they reported Arsenal for illegally approaching Calum Chambers [Daily Mail].
In 2014, Southampton publicly refused to sell Dejan Lovren to Liverpool [Guardian].
The same year, Southampton put a ‘non-negotiable £30m fee’ on Adam Lallana’s head [Times].
What’s clearly irritated Southampton is the fact they wanted to ensue a bidding war between ourselves, Chelsea and Manchester City – and are clearly furious their captain has already chosen us – as was broken by everyone of note last night – such as Chris Bascombe in the Telegraph.
Besides, if they’re reporting us, they’d need to report Chelsea and City too – who’ve been in as much contact with the defender as we have.
All it takes for a club to approach a player, judging by Premier League rules, is a written notification of our intent to do so, and we’d be truly shocked if the board failed to provide Southampton one when Van Dijk’s been our primary target for many, many months.
We very much still expect a deal to get done – just perhaps not by the end of this week. And in future, we should perhaps turn our attention elsewhere and leave an angry Southampton to be.