Wed 14/06/2017 10:15am

Southampton’s Van Dijk Saga Takes ‘Another’ Twist : Talks Almost Ready To Resume

Remember we told you that Liverpool were about to walk away from the Van Dijk deal hours before the national press? See here

Now we have an exclusive update. Just as Liverpool fans were sharpening their blades ready for their annual attack on their tightwad American owners bungling another transfer stories are beginning to emerge that all was not what it seems in the clubs pursuit of coveted Dutch centre back Virgil Van Dijk.

It seems that Van Dijk who spent the tail end of the season injured had been told informally that he would be allowed to leave the club in summer. Representatives for the player had spoken to Ralph Kreuger and were advised whilst Southampton would look to negotiate the best deal they would not stand in the player’s way should an acceptable bid arrive.

A deal had been put in place by the Liebherr family (led by Katharina) to sell to a Chinese consortium Lander Holdings led by Gao Jisheng. Plans had been put in place to sell Van Dijk as early as possible in the transfer window so the optimism provided by new owners would reduce the opposition from the Southampton fans to losing another key player.

The big problem came when the 210m sale was scuppered by the Premier League. The Premier League decided that Lander Holdings and Gao Jisheng did not pass the fit and proper persons test. Gao Jisheng had been part of an investigation into bribery and corruption and whilst no chargeds were held against him the Premier League ruled against the bid.

The problem came when nobody told the representatives for Van Dijk who had started to conduct talks with several clubs about a possible transfer before deciding his personal preference would be Anfield.

Katharina Liebherr now found herself in the unenviable position of without a new buyer and fan dissent against the sale of another star player which would have almost certainly driven the price down for the club by millions. No formal permission was ever given to Van Dijk or the clubs. Informal permission had been given to attempt to create an auction situation where the family could maximise the sale.

FSG (Fenway Sports Group) believed that negotiations were ready to begin and in an attempt to drive down the auction leaked that Van Dijk had plumped for Liverpool. This situation meant Southampton’s owners had to act fact and they immediately reported Liverpool to the Premier League (or did they?) in attempt to buy themselves using the fact permission had technically not been given.

The saga took a new twist just last night. UBS who represent Liebherr have already helped repackage another bid from Lander Holdings. Rumours of another rival bid had also seen the price rise by £15 million and Lander Holdings have announced last night they have secured the funding and that Gao Jisheng is no longer part of any investigation.

The prospective new Chinese owners are happy to allow the sale of Van Dijk to the highest bidder. They already have assurance from Shanghai manager Andre Villas Boas he is ready to take over and have promised a sizeable transfer kitty in addition to funds raised from the sale of Van Dijk.

The following statement was made last night by Lander Holdings

“The company’s owner Mr Gao Jisheng has confirmed that he has obtained verbal approval from the Premier League to acquire an 80% share in St Mary’s Football Group Ltd”

Once the deal has been approved in full by the Premier League it expected that Southampton will immediately start negotiations with Liverpool over the immediate transfer of Van Dijk. Katharina Liebherr remains confident that the public embarrassment suffered by Liverpool could enhance their valuation of the player even more as they seek to appease their fans.