In a parallel universe, the first official news of Virgil van Dijk and Liverpool would have been that of the deal sealed between the Reds and Southampton for the signing of the Dutchman.
Beating the reigning champions and richest club in England, the signing of VVD was suppose to pull the Reds out of the dark ages, in terms of the transfer market, and signal their arrival back among the elite.
What frustrates Liverpool supporters and possibly the manager himself was not that the Reds lost out on a potential key clog to their leaky defence. There was every chance VVD would be the next Dejan Lovren and struggle without a purely defensive-minded midfielder ahead of him.
What frustrates more is that had VVD signed, the opportunities ahead seemed endless. Others like Naby Keita, Alexandre Lacazette, Douglas Costa to name a few might not have chose Liverpool after VVD’s arrival, but they would definitely have known of this news at Anfield.
They would have wondered, if Liverpool was willing, and able, to bring a player of VVD’s supposed calibre, ahead of stiff competition from the rich kids in English football, might my own arrival be just one of a handful of quality signings this summer?
Would Lacazette have been drooling just at the possible thought of playing alongside Costa or Mohamad Salah, or that Keita would be thinking of what it would be like to take the ball off VVD and feeding it off towards Salah?
Now, not only is Jurgen Klopp rightfully fuming at the incompetence of the suits above him, his transfer plans are in tatters. Sure, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly or Roma’s Kostas Manolas might come in for an inflated sum as Klopp’s flagship central defensive signing, but the reverberations which would have surrounded a VVD arrival would just not be there, or as significant.
It may seem a slippery slope, but VVD’s arrival could’ve led to Keita, Timo Werner if not Lacazette, Salah if not Costa signing for Liverpool as well. VVD’s arrival could’ve led to Liverpool sorting out their core for the next three years within a single transfer window.
With the Reds now looking more desperate than ever to all the other clubs currently employing their potential targets, looking less able to quickly seal the deals to all their potential targets, the reluctance to move to Liverpool among top players will only grow with this public embarrassment of a transfer debacle.
Even the draw of Klopp might not be good enough anymore – and he has been Liverpool’s sole hope so far.