The last 12 months of Virgil van Dijk’s career have been the stuff of fairytales.
After a decent start to his Liverpool career in the second-half of the 2017/18 season, the Dutchman has taken his game to another level in the last year.
He has turned Liverpool into the most feared defensive unit in world football and now has a Champions League winners medal to his name.
And he’s also in the final of the UEFA Nations League after yet another commanding performance in Holland’s 3-1 victory over England in the semi-final.
In fact, Van Dijk is now the odds on favourite to win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
Who would have predicted this when Europe’s elite were circling to snap him up from Southampton? Certainly not Manchester City.
That’s because Pep Guardiola’s side had an interesting plan when they lodged a £60m bid to sign Van Dijk – they wanted him as their third-choice centre-back.
Liverpool fans have been humorously retweeting a post which states that City’s plan was to have the Dutchman as back-up for John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.
Is there anything more beautiful than hindsight?
Fast forward 18 months and both Stones and Otamendi are far from first-team regulars in the City setup.
Otamendi looks likely to leave this summer after being usurped by Aymeric Laporte, while Stones was ousted from the team by Vincent Kompany in the latter half of 2018/19.
With Kompany rejoining Anderlecht, Guardiola will probably be looking for a new first-choice centre-back as he does seem reluctant to hand the responsibility to Stones right now.
If only they could have offered Van Dijk guaranteed first-team football, eh?