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‘Man City would still be dominating with Van Dijk’ – Richards questions why interest wasn’t followed up

12:27 AM IST 02/02/20
Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2019-20
Pep Guardiola was linked with the Netherlands international before he ended up with Liverpool, with title rivals now benefitting from his presence

Manchester City must be ruing their decision not to follow up on interest in Virgil van Dijk, says Micah Richards, with it likely that the Blues would still be dominating had they beaten Liverpool to the Dutch defender.

Two ambitious outfits saw the Netherlands international register on their recruitment radar heading towards the winter transfer window of 2018.

Pep Guardiola knew that he was counting down the days to Vincent Kompany’s departure from the Etihad Stadium.

He did, however, opt against bringing in a ready-made replacement with the Belgian still 18 months away from heading for the exits.

City were also put off by the £75 million ($99m) asking price placed on Van Dijk by Southampton as they sought to fend off admiring glances from afar.

As the Blues walked away, Liverpool stole in and put a record-breaking agreement in place.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds have benefited considerably from that deal, with Van Dijk’s considerable presence helping them to continental and global crowns while chasing down a domestic title.

City have remained competitive without the 28-year-old on their books, with an historic treble secured last season, but have been knocked from a lofty Premier League perch in 2019-20.

Richards feels they would still be there had Guardiola agreed to dig deep for Van Dijk.

Quizzed by Radio 5 Live on whether the 2019 Ballon d’Or runner-up can be considered the finest January signing of all time, ex-Blues star Richards said: “I’m going to say, yes. He has got everything hasn’t he?

“Man City were linked with him and didn’t pursue it. They knew Kompany was coming towards his end and if they would have had Van Dijk, Man City would probably be dominating the league for a third year in a row.”

Former Premier League star and Liverpool fan Kevin Nolan agrees that Van Dijk has been the most notable transfer of recent times, saying: “I was with Pep when he said ‘we’re not paying that much for Virgil van Dijk’, but he has gone to Liverpool and he’s just been on an upward spiral.

“I don’t think I’ve seen him have a bad game. He just looks like he’s in second gear every time I go and watch him.

“He looks like he has got everything under control. You watch him, his arms go out and you just see everyone moving with his arms.”

Van Dijk has contributed to Liverpool opening up a record-breaking 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League table, with City having to focus their attention on other routes to silverware.