Do you remember, way back in the day, when a footballer would sign a contract and actually honour it unless all parties agreed on a transfer? Well, it doesn’t seem to happen anymore – at least not once a player gets itchy feet and decides he wants to play his football on another football pitch somewhere else.
Diego Costa is currently going through a high profile spat with Chelsea. Essentially, the Spaniard wants to return to his former club Atletico Madrid, but Chelsea don’t want to talk business just yet. Costa has stationed himself in Brazil until the solution can be resolved, but Atletico can’t sign any players at this moment in time.
Blues boss Antonio Conte has told Costa he isn’t in his plans, so instead Costa is sitting out the time until he can get the move he wants. While the striker may have a point – what’s the point in keeping him if they don’t want to use him – ultimately there is a contract to be honoured in any which way Chelsea see fit.
A slightly lower-on-the-radar saga is also going on at St. Marys, with south coast club Southampton fighting to retain the services of defender Virgil van Dijk. The Dutch international handed in a transfer request earlier this month, after previously being told by new Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino to train alone.
Liverpool have been courting his services throughout the summer, and while other clubs have had reported interest it is a move to Anfield that has looked the most inevitable of all his next potential moves.
Saints had, at one stage, threatened to report Liverpool to the Premier League for an alleged illegal approach for the defender, and the Merseysiders promptly ended their interest. However, much like the case with Costa, if a player is clearly wanting away it would surely be better to cash in now – while sums of around £75m are being bandied about – rather than wait and let the situation fester into an even worse one down the line.
Ultimately, if van Dijk’s heart isn’t near the Itchen anymore, and has sailed its way up to the Mersey, then he should be sold. If there is little game time and no real heart going into matches, his value will only fall – and a defender of real quality could run the risk of paling into a shadow of his former self. When that happens, Southampton will get much, much less for him – and, as sad as it may be, football appears to be a business first and foremost these days.
Liverpool now look to have rekindled their interest and are moving forward with getting the deal done. If that is the case, then happy days for all involved. If Southampton end up keeping him on their books then they need to work hard to get him re-integrated into the first team and get him happy again, because this is a player who can do a job for whichever club happens to call him their own.
If Liverpool do manage to get it over the line, then while they may have spent a pretty penny on a position manager Jurgen Klopp said only recently that they didn’t need, they will nevertheless have signed a player to improve their chances across the course of the coming season.
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