In the summer, one of the longest and most drawn-out sagas of the season was the failed transfer of Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool. In the end, the move never went through and Southampton stood firm amid rumours of eye-watering offers for a want-away, somewhat injury prone centre half.
It did not happen, though, and the big Dutchman stayed at Southampton. His performance in their recent draw against Newcastle United and losses against Manchester United and Stoke – with 4 goals conceded in that time – suggest that the club might have perhaps made the wrong move.
Having played three games so far across the season, he’s done alright and still looks his strong, powerful, composed self. However, his distinct lack of tracking back against Newcastle and his totally casual approach to the game showed that there is still some major lingering doubts about his mind-set to return to the fold for the club.
Despite missing the game against United, the big Dutchman put in a good game in the eventual loss to Stoke, being in position more often than not. He has, though, been seen to be a fair bit off the pace in comparison to where he was even a short while ago. He’s still got all the talent in the world, but questions have rightfully been asked about his commitment to the cause.
He didn’t look too fused in any of the games he played so far, and appears to have lost the verve he had for the club. If his performances so far – strong but lacking that same lion-like commitment – continue, will the club suffer in terms of the revenue lost?
For Saints, and their fans, it appears that making the statement – as Everton did with John Stones in the past – might not work out for them quite in the manner that they would have expected it to.
If his commitment returns then he will go back to being one of the best players in the league, without a doubt. Without that commitment, though, nobody wins from this situation.