The reason Arsenal turned down the chance to sign Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk for just £12million

Virgil Van Dijk cost Liverpool £75million from Southampton in January (Picture: Getty)Arsenal turned down the chance to sign Virgil van Dijk from Celtic when he would have cost just £12million.

The Netherlands international was scouted by all of England’s major clubs during his time in the Scottish Premier League but only Southampton were prepared to take the gamble and eventually brought him south of the boarder three years ago.

According to former Celtic assistant manager John Collins, Arsene Wenger had been keen on Van Dijk but the club’s now former chief scout, Steve Rowley, thought the elegant centre-half was too ‘nonchalant’.

‘Arsenal’s chief scout thought he was too nonchalant,’ Collins told beIN Sport. ‘Maybe that was part of his game but he ticks so many of the other boxes.

‘He’s got pace, power, balance, distribution and he’s good in the air. He can be a bit nonchalant but he is a quality player.

‘Gary McAllister was the assistant to Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and I told him I hope you’re going to come and take Virgil but Brendand didn’t fancy him and didn’t think he was better than what he already had.

‘He would’ve cost around £12m – every team watched him regularly but the worry was he was showing it against Scottish players but you could tell he was strong, powerful and a well balanced player.’

Van Dijk ultimately moved to Anfield in January for a world record £75m and has cemented his reputation as one of the best defenders in world football.

The 27-year-old has been an ever-present in Liverpool’s 100% start to the new season, a run which was extended following Saturday’s 3-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.

Virgil van Dijk was consoled by his teammates (Picture: Reuters)

Virgil can Dijk was replaced by Joe Gomez in the 55th minute (Picture: Getty)Van Dijk was substituted 10 minutes into the second half with a rib injury, but Jurgen Klopp is hoping he will be available for a critical run of fixtures which sees Liverpool play Chelsea twice, Napoli and Manchester City.

‘He had already before the PSG game a bruise on his ribs which is very uncomfortable, and today had another hit there,’ said Klopp.

‘It’s not cool, but it should not be too serious. He said he couldn’t shout anymore, and that’s obviously 60% less his level!

‘He should be absolutely okay, hopefully. I didn’t hear anything different.

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Jurgen Klopp reveals the ‘mistake’ he made with Liverpool summer signing Xherdan Shaqiri

Liverpool signed Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City in the summer (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp believes he has made a ‘mistake’ by not giving Xherdan Shaqiri more game-time following his summer move to Liverpool.

The Reds triggered Shaqiri’s £13.5million release clause in July to sign the Switzerland international from relegated Stoke City.

The 26-year-old has been restricted to three substitute appearances so far this season and is yet to start a game for Liverpool.

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But Klopp admits it is his own ‘mistake’ that Shaqiri has not featured more prominently and says the summer signing’s ‘time will come’.

Liverpool will look to maintain their 100% start to the new Premier League season at home against Southampton on Saturday.

‘He is very positive, not only from the performances but as a guy in the dressing room,’ Klopp said.

‘Everyone loves Shaq, that is how it is – and without playing plenty of minutes.

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‘That is more my mistake than his. He has done everything to play. I made different decisions but his time will come, that is for sure.’

As well as winning their first five Premier League matches this season, Liverpool also beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 in the Champions League during the week.

And Klopp says Liverpool’s recent defensive performances were a ‘really big step’ for his team.

‘We don’t feel that [momentum] to be honest because we play, analyse, prepare; play, analyse, prepare and that is it,’ Klopp said of Shaqiri.

Shaqiri is yet to start a game for the Reds (Picture: Getty)‘Maybe it’s because all the jobs are so difficult. There is no game where we have thought: “Thank God we have played them.”

‘None of the results we have this season would have been possible without the greed you have seen or without the aggression you see. No chance.’

Klopp, who will manage his 600th competitive game on Saturday, added: ‘We didn’t win anything so far – not in the past and not this season – so let’s use the momentum and create a new momentum.

‘We really want to be the ugliest team to play against. That is the plan, and to do it with good football players.

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‘The best news I have had in the last two weeks is how we have changed or reinvented again our defensive skills.

‘We didn’t need them too much in the first few games. It was not that we didn’t have to defend but they were different games.

‘Against Tottenham and Paris I loved how we did it. We still played good football and that was a really big step in the season so far.’

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Manchester United submit offer for Liverpool target Lucas Paqueta

Lucas Paqueta is firmly on Manchester United’s radar (Picture: Getty)Manchester United have reportedly lodged a bid to sign Flamengo star Lucas Paqueta.

Paqueta, 21, has scored 14 goals in 80 appearances since breaking into Flamengo’s first-team back in 2016 and his performances have caught the attention of Europe’s elite clubs.

Barcelona are understood to be keeping close tabs on Paqueta and Liverpool, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are also monitoring the highly-rated Brazil international.

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However, according to Catalan publication Sport, United have jumped to the front of the queue after submitting a €40m (£36m) offer for the sough-after midfielder.

Paqueta has a €50m release clause in his contract at Flamengo, though, and the Brazilian outfit are reluctant to drop their asking price for the youngster.

The youngster has two caps for Brazil (Picture: Getty)The Red Devils landed Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant in the summer transfer window and Paqueta is being eyed as a potential January signing.

Regarded as one of the most promising youngsters in South America, Paqueta has already picked up two caps for Brazil.

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Jose Mourinho has received assurances from United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that there will be money to spend this winter.

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How Jurgen Klopp almost persuaded Kylian Mbappe to join Liverpool instead of Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe will feature for PSG against Liverpool tonight (Picture: Getty)Kylian Mbappe will line up against Liverpool in the Champions League this evening but it could have been a different story had Jurgen Klopp’s charm offensive been successful.

Last season’s beaten finalist had been tracking the precocious teenager, according to L’Équipe, before his breakout season with Monaco during which he scored 24 goals which resulted in an unlikely Ligue 1 title-winning campaign, while he also inspired Leonardo Jardim’s men to the semi finals of the Champions League.

Mbappe’s displays prompted the vast majority of Europea’s heavyweight clubs to register an interest but it was PSG who eventually won a hotly contested bidding war, signing the France international on loan before paying an eye-watering £166million for his services.

Liverpool confident of beating Tottenham to £35million Nicolo Barella signing

Nicolo Barella has been linked with a move to Liverpool and Spurs (Picture: Getty)Liverpool are confident of winning the race to sign highly-rate Italy Under-21 international Nico Barella.

Jurgen Klopp spent nearly £90million in the summer on midfield reinforcements alone in the shape of Naby Keita and Fabinho.

A serious knee injury suffered by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in last season’s Champions League semi final first leg win over Roma, allied to the collapse of Nabil Fekir’s proposed move from Lyon, has left Liverpool slightly short of numbers in central midfield.

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Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are both on the lookout for midfield reinforcements (Picture: Getty)The Daily Express claim that Tottenham, who failed to make a single addition to their squad over the summer, have also registered an interest in the 21-year-old.

Serie A giants Milan and Inter are also closely watching developments but the Cagliari is said to favour a move to the Premier League.

Liverpool sold Ragnar Klavan to Cagliari on deadline day back in August and hope their strong relationship with the Italian club could help give them an advantage in a bid to sign Barella.

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Gary Lineker apologises to Liverpool unsung hero James Milner after Tottenham win

James Milner is a mainstay of Liverpool’s midfield under Jurgen Klopp (Picture: Getty)Gary Lineker offered a formal apology on Twitter to Liverpool’s unsung hero James Milner after he starred in Saturday’s win over Tottenham.

Jurgen Klopp’s side maintained their 100% start to the new season with a 2-1 victory at Wembley thanks to goals from Gini Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino.

Milner, however, was the outstanding midfielder on display, working tirelessly for his team and triggering numerous attacks with his incisive passing.

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Georginio Wijnaldum scored Liverpool’s opening goal (Picture: Getty)

Roberto Firmino doubled the lead after a mistake from Michel Vorm (Picture: Getty)The former Manchester City star filled in at left-back during the early part of Klopp’s Liverpool tenure but has subsequently established himself as a mainstay of his side’s midfield engine room.

Despite the summer arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho, Milner has started all five matches this season with club captain Jordan Henerson regularly forced to settle for a place on the bench.

And Lineker, who had been critical of Milner in the past, admits he has been forced to change his opinion of the versatile 32-year-old.

‘I once tweeted that I didn’t really know what @JamesMilner was on the football pitch,’ he tweeted.

‘I do these days, and owe him an apology. He’s a terrific, versatile and intelligent footballer. My bad.’

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Jamie Carragher spots Tottenham’s sly tactic during Liverpool match

Liverpool recorded their fifth straight win of the season at Wembley against Tottenham (Picture: Getty)Jamie Carragher accused Tottenham’s ground-staff of attempting to give the home side an unfair advantage in their match against Liverpool at Wembley.

The game was originally slated to be the first at Spurs’ new home ground, but multiple delays and safety concerns forced the match to be relocated to the home of the national stadium.

Liverpool dominated the first half and the 1-0 scoreline failed to reflect their stranglehold on procedings with only Gini Wijnaldum’s header to show for an excellent display.

During the break, Carragher spotted the groundsmen watering the pitch, but only the half which Tottenham were due to attack in the second period.

Georginio Wijnaldum scored Liverpool’s opening goal (Picture: Getty)

Roberto Firmino doubled the lead after a mistake from Michel Vorm (Picture: Getty)The tactic nearly worked a treat when Lucas Moura scampered away from Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold, only to fire his low shot against the base of the post.

Liverpool, however, appeared to put the contest to bed shortly afterwards when Michel Vorm, standing in for the injured Hugo Lloris, failed to claim Sadio Mane’s deflected cross and presented Roberto Firmino with a tap-in.

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Jurgen Klopp hits back at Dominic Solanke jibes after Jose Mourinho defends his use of Marcus Rashford

Jurgen Klopp insists he still has faith in Dominic Solanke (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp has backed Dominic Solanke to fulfil his potential at Liverpool amid criticism of the way he has handled the England Under-21 international since signing him from Chelsea.

Solanke has started just five Premier League games since he quit Stamford Bridge just over a year ago and is yet to feature at all this season.

Jose Mourinho name-checked Solanke as he launched a passionate defence of his handling of Marcus Rashford, given no player has played more competitive matches for a Premier League club than the Manchester United forward (126) since his debut in February 2016.

England Under-21 boss Aidy Bothroyd this week expressed his concerns at Solanke’s lack of opportunities at Anfield but Klopp has highlighted the late development of Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane as reason to be patient with his underused striker.

Dominic Solanke is yet to feature for Liverpool this season (Picture: Getty)‘It’s not a perfect situation, that is clear,” Klopp said. He is a young striker and young strikers generally need longer in a big club. If you’re a young striker at another club and you don’t perform and you don’t score then it can be career-threatening because no-one in this world is patient enough.

‘But it is all fine for Dom. He didn’t play as often as he wished, I can imagine that, but he is still developing and still improving. He had good games last season, not enough minutes that is true, but he is still young and will have enough minutes in his career.

Jose Mourinho launched a passionate defence of his treatment of Marcus Rashford (Picture: Getty)‘When we cannot use him as a striker, we still work with him to try and fulfil his potential. I think we are really on a good way with that. We don’t have a problem with young English players not being involved often enough.

‘There is no pressure. I don’t like to talk about what other people said, but Dom Solanke is a fantastic young player. Our situation here is that we have four players in Bobby, Daniel, Divock (Origi) and Dom. We have this squad and we need it.

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‘If Dom works hard – and that is all what he needs to do to secure the rest of his career – then everything will be fine because of his talent and his skills. I don’t know exactly where Harry Kane was at the same stage of his career but it was all over the country playing and not playing.

‘I remember a picture of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy sitting on the bench for Leicester. They obviously didn’t start that day but they made their way. It is really difficult for strikers to get the one spot or one of the two. We are still 100% sure everything will be fine for Dom.’

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Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool summer siging Fabinho to follow examples of Andy Robertson and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain

Fabinho is yet to make his first start for Liverpool since his move from Monaco (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp has told summer signing Fabinho to take heart from two Liverpool players who had similarly slow starts to their Anfield careers.

The Brazil international was the first of three big-money summer purchases, but unlike fellow new recruit Alisson Becker and Naby Keita, the former Monaco star is yet to make his debut.

Fabinho was left out of the matchday squads entirely for the games against Crystal Palace and Leicester but played for his country in the 2-0 win over USA last weekend.

Klopp was pressed on whether the 24-year-old will make his first appearance for his new club on Saturday against Tottenham, but believes it will take time for Fabinho to bed in, as was the case with Andy Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season.

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‘We had similar questions about Robbo and Oxlade,’ said Klopp.

‘Fabinho is full of energy and desire. It’s not nice to tell him he’s not involved but he’s come from another league with a different system, it takes time.

‘The plan was and still is that he will make us better.’

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struggled initially to force his way into Liverpool’s side following his move from Arsenal (Picture: Getty)Liverpool face the prospect of seven games in three different competitions in little under a month before the next international break and Klopp admits he is certain to rotate his team.

‘Of course we have to [rotate], he said. ‘We go to the next game and then see.

‘You always try to have your best team but it’s clear with the number of games we have, we have to rotate.

‘It feels like we’ve got 500 games [coming up]! When you have a lot of players you can make decisions, good decisions.

‘It’s a luxury problem to have.’

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Watford ace Abdoulaye Doucoure speaks out on Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal transfer links

Abdoulaye Doucoure was linked with a move away from Watford in the summer (Picture: Getty)Abdoulaye Doucoure says he is entirely focused on performing for Watford after being strongly linked with a move away from Vicarage Road in the summer.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal were all said to be interested in signing Doucoure, the French midfielder who is valued at around £40million.

But 25-year-old Doucoure, who was Watford’s Player of the Year last season, stayed put and committed his long-term future to the club by signing a new deal until 2023.

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‘There was a lot of speculation in the summer but I was focused on Watford and my football. I don’t think all the speculation was true,’ he said.

‘I’m very happy to have my new deal with the club and to be part of this project.

‘We’ve won four games [in a row this season] and I’m very happy here. I want to put my level as high as possible this year.

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‘I was always focused on Watford.’

Watford have won four straight games this season but manager Javi Gracia says the Premier League will soon put the club ‘in our place’.

Only two other teams – Liverpool and Chelsea – are also yet to drop a point this term.

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‘When you start something you always think you will be good but you do not know if you will be able to achieve four wins in a row,’ Gracia said.

‘But we are in a good moment – we are enjoying it. We know in the future the competition will put us in our place.’

Manchester United lost back-to-back matches earlier in the season but bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Burnley before the international break.

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