Virgil van Dijk had been an overwhelming success since joining Liverpool in January 2018.
But many had their doubts when the Reds smashed the world record fee for a defender by paying Southampton £75m.
“Southampton have got one hell of a deal,” Alan Shearer told 5Live at the time. “Van Dijk is a good player, yes, but for £75m? No, he’s not worth it at all.”
It was a lot of money for a midtable Premer League player, although, there was much competition at the time.
Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea were all linked with moves in the summer of 2017.
Liverpool appeared to have wrapped it up, too, until things fell apart once it became clear they hadn’t been totally clean with their approach.
The move collapsed and the race started once again as the January window approached.
And a report in the Telegraph at the time shows that, once again, Liverpool, Man City, and Chelsea were in for the player.
Interestingly, though, it appears that then-Chelsea boss Antonio Conte’s priority wasn’t signing him but making sure that City didn’t.
‘[Conte] has already urged the rest of the Premier League’s big clubs to try to keep the player out of City’s clutches amid fears the leaders will become unstoppable if they sign him,’ it says.
Given what we’ve seen since, you’d have to say he was absolutely correct.
Add Van Dijk to this current City side and it’s difficult to see how anyone could beat them to anything.
The Telegraph believed that City were ‘closing in on a £60 million deal’ for Van Dijk on Christmas day 2017 – but it didn’t work out that way, of course.
Liverpool would finalise a deal for him two days later for even more, securing the signing they needed.
He’s since gone on to become an outstanding defender – surely the best in the world.
Liverpool won’t just be thrilled they got him, though, they’ll be happy that City didn’t.