Injury concerns surrounding Virgil van Dijk went somewhat overlooked amid Liverpool’s summer-long pursuit of the Dutchman.
The defender endured a miserable comeback for Southampton on Monday night as he made his first appearance since being sidelined with an ankle injury in January.
Van Dijk supposedly struggled on his return to action as he featured in a 4-0 loss to Aston Villa for the Saints U23s, following up a disappointing transfer window in which he failed to secure a move away from the club.
The 26-year-old recently reintegrated with the first team having been exiled to train alone following an expression of his desire to leave.
A rusty display doesn’t dismiss his undeniable talent, but it does serve as a reminder of how long it may take for him to get back up to speed and rediscover his top form.
Liverpool will undoubtedly be hoping he enjoys a strong first half of the season in time for the January transfer window, when the Reds could get an opportunity to reignite their interest.
The club had been dubbed as the centre-back’s ideal destination all summer, but saw its chance of signing Jurgen Klopp’s priority target ruined when Southampton made a complaint against an alleged ‘illegal pursuit’.
Talk of a late deal also failed to materialise into an official offer, with Van Dijk’s employers giving Liverpool no reason to believe they would be open to a bid, let alone negotiations.
His progress could be worth keeping an eye on over the next couple of months, especially if the Reds are still prepared to pay £70million for his services.