Klopp preparing van Dijk for frosty reception at St Mary's

Ex-Saint returns to Southampton for the first time since big-money move


Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp expects a frosty reception for Virgil van Dijk when the world’s most expensive defender returns to Southampton for the first time since his £75 million (S$137 million) January move.

Despite van Dijk scoring the winner in an FA Cup Merseyside Derby on debut against Everton, the Dutchman hasn’t had an easy start to his Liverpool career with Klopp’s men failing to win in his last three appearances against Swansea, West Brom and Tottenham.

Klopp admitted he will speak to van Dijk about maintaining his focus at St Mary’s, but expects him to rise above the baiting.

“We are all human beings, we are influenced by circumstances. It will not be a normal game, how can it be?

“I think how football fans are, they want to disturb everything we try to do to help their team and they will whistle.

“Is it nice? I don’t think so. Will it have influence? I don’t think so.”

Van Dijk said: “I know because I made such a big step right now, for a lot of money, everything is going to be analysed.

“No one is going to look at the good things that you do. Everybody is going to watch the bad things and that is how it is. But I will discuss it with the people who want to make me better, who can make me better, that is the manager and the players around me.”

However, van Dijk is not the only former Saint set to feature for Liverpool on Monday morning (Singapore time).

Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane have all followed the same route north to Anfield in recent seasons, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also started his career at Southampton before joining Liverpool from Arsenal in August.

And Klopp believes rather than anger, some Southampton fans might be grateful for the hundreds of millions their club has cashed in on from Liverpool.

“I don’t think Southampton will say we have stolen him. It was a really public deal,” Klopp said in reference to the van Dijk signing.

“They may say thank you for all the money they have.”

However, Klopp believes Liverpool’s persistent interest in Southampton players is a testament to Saints’ academy.

“There are a few good players from there so maybe we should have a scouting department at Southampton,” Klopp joked. “It shows the good work they do down there.” – AFP

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