Virgil van Dijk reportedly knew Manchester United chose to sign Victor Lindelof over him in 2017 – meaning he was free to join Liverpool six months later.
Van Dijk arrived at Anfield from Southampton on a £75m deal in January 2018, which was a world record for a defender at the time.
Things could have been so different, though. Charlie Austin was van Dijk’s teammate during his time at St Mary’s and revealed an interesting conversation he had with the Dutch international.
🤷♂️ “In #Santos FC I told Virgil that Manchester United certainly had to be with him.
😲 “Virgil told me it was between him and Victor Lindelof…”
🔴 “Not sure [if he wanted Utd move]your heart was #LFC.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) January 25, 2021
“We were sitting on the bench at Chelsea and I asked him what was going on, I said surely United were in his shoes?” Austin told talkSPORT.
“He told me, ‘you know what Chaz, it was between me or Victor Lindelof, and they signed Lindelof.’
“I was shocked, as were you.
“Obviously there were rumors that he was going there for the summer, so they went to Lindelof.”
Liverpool currently have a quadruple in their sights, having already won the Carabao Cup.
They are in the FA Cup final, the Champions League semi-finals and one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League.
Lindelof joined United from Benfica for £30m months earlier and has built a decent career for himself at Old Trafford given the club’s struggles in recent years.
The Sweden captain started regularly under José Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the latter settling into Lindelof as Harry Maguire’s preferred partner for two seasons.
Raphael Varane joined last summer and replaced Lindelof alongside Captain Maguire. However, the former Real Madrid player had his own injury issues and Lindelof managed to make 25 league appearances.
Lindelof believes it is important to finish well before new coach Erik ten Hag arrives in the summer.
“I think it’s very, very important that we try to do that,” he said on United’s game programme.
“This season has obviously not been good enough and of course we as players take responsibility for that.
“We just want to try to finish this season strong and try to win the remaining games.”