Virgil van Dijk has been central to Liverpool’s immense success over the past few years, though he could have had a very different career if Brighton and Hove Albion had signed him in 2013
After leaving Dutch side FC Groningen for Celtic in 2013, it quickly became apparent that the towering defender had the potential to go to the very top.
However, Van Dijk’s career almost took a very different turn in 2013 while he was still at Groningen.
In the January of the 2012/13 campaign, Brighton and Hove Albion submitted a bid for the defender that was just short of Groningen’s £2.5m asking price.
The Seagulls, who were battling it out for the play-off spots in the Championship at the time, couldn’t warrant upping their bid, as revealed by Gus Poyet in 2019, who was at their helm at the time.
Speaking to talkSPORT, the Uruguayan said: “We went all the way up to Groningen to watch the game, and it was too easy for him. He was already incredible.
“After 10 minutes you could see that he was bigger than everyone, more powerful than everyone and so calm on the ball.
“We watched the whole game and afterwards we talked to the chairman and we started getting in contact with the club and the agents, but he was too expensive for Brighton. He was €3m at that time!”
Of course, Celtic could afford that price and signed van Dijk that summer.
Explaining why the AMEX Stadium outfit couldn’t afford the defender, Poyet continued: “Brighton had just come into the Championship, although a year later we spent €3m on a striker, Leonardo Ulloa, but for a defender at that time it was impossible.”
Brighton owner Tony Bloom will be given another painful reminder of what his side missed out on this weekend when Liverpool take on the Seagulls at the AMEX.
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A victory for the Reds will put them just three points behind Manchester City, though they did struggle against Graham Potter’s side earlier this season at Anfield and were somewhat fortunate to draw the match 2-2.
Discussing the prospect of potentially winning the league in historic fashion, Klopp said: “We want to write a special story here, not only this year but in general.
“If you want to look back later in life on very successful times, you should give absolutely everything now. We have no time and no points to waste. We have to keep going, that is clear, and if there is any kind of momentum we should keep it and work with it.
“We cannot call it a title race because we are still behind but we have to win football matches but everybody is excited about having the opportunity to have a title race. So far the boys did really well and why shouldn’t I think we can’t go on?”