Manchester United signed Victor Lindelof over Virgil van Dijk, according to the Liverpool defender’s former teammate Charlie Austin.
The Red Devils snapped up Swedish centre-back Lindelof from Benfica in June 2017 for a fee rising to £31m.
Van Dijk moved to Liverpool six months later and has played an integral part in the Reds’ Premier League and Champions League success over the past two seasons.
However, Austin, who played alongside Van Dijk at Southampton, claims that things could have turned out a lot different.
“I remember at the back end of his Southampton career we were on the bench together at Chelsea, and I said to him ‘come on Virg, what’s going on? Surely Man United must have been in for you’,” he told talkSPORT.
“He said to me, ‘in the summer, it was between me or Lindelof’. I couldn’t believe it, I was gobsmacked. There was talk in the summer that he was going to go there and they got Lindelof instead.
“The manager was [Mauricio] Pellegrino at the time, and in the summer Van Dijk was looking to go. I remember [Pellegrino] getting everybody round in pre-season, everyone on the pitch including Virg, and just said ‘look lads, Vigil wants to go, the club are not allowing him to go, so he says he’s not going to play so he’s not going to train with us’, in front of everyone.
“[Van Dijk] was gobsmacked, there was no heads up from the manager or anything. It was more down the line of stamping his authority. Two days the later transfer window shut and Virg was starting again on the Saturday.
“He apologised to the lads, but we just said ‘Virg, we understand, you were linked with Liverpool and you wanted to go, it’s fine by us’, we were just happy that he was here because of the quality that he brought.”
Lindelof has gone on to make 138 appearances for United in all competitions, 22 of those this season