Liverpool put contract talks with Reds hero ‘on the backburner’ as Slot takes risk in ‘surprise twist’

Jason Soutar
Liverpool duo Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah during a match
Liverpool duo Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah during a match

Liverpool will not open contract talks with club captain Virgil van Dijk until days before he can negotiate a pre-contract with a foreign club, according to reports.

Van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton for £75million – a world-record fee for a defender – in January 2018.

He had an instant impact at Anfield, helping inspire a run to the Champions League final in his first six months at the club.

After losing the final to Real Madrid – courtesy of a Loris Karius disasterclass – the Reds would return to the Champions League final a year later, beating Premier League rivals Tottenham 2-0.

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Club captain following Jordan Henderson’s controversial transfer to Saudi Arabia last summer, Van Dijk had one of his best individual seasons for Liverpool in 2023/24 as he lifted the Carabao Cup in February.

There were doubts over Van Dijk’s ability the season prior after some shaky showings off the back of an ACL injury, but he was back to the level we all know he can play at last term.

His influence should make contract negotiations a massive priority for Liverpool as his current deal expires in 2025, however, that does not appear to be the case.

He is not the only Reds star whose situation is a precarious one as Real Madrid-linked right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is also out of contract next year.

Despite Van Dijk’s influence at the club, new Liverpool head coach Arne Slot is taking a risk by not prioritising a new contract for his captain.

According to Football Insider, Slot ‘wants to keep’ Van Dijk ‘with a new contract’ but in a ‘surprise twist’, ‘talks have been put on hold’.

The current ‘priority’ at Anfield is this summer’s transfer business. The report states:

‘Club chiefs will pursue a renewal for the centre-back, but it is believed talks will not take place until the end of 2024 with transfer business currently being prioritised after Slot’s arrival at Anfield.’

It is believed that ‘talks will be placed on the backburner, potentially for six months’, meaning the Reds might not open talks until days before the January transfer window opens, when Van Dijk will be allowed to negotiate a pre-contract with a foreign club.

Understandably, Liverpool are planning for the future and are looking to sign a long-term replacement for the Dutchman – who turns 34 next July.

It is claimed in the same report that there is ‘concrete interest’ in Sporting centre-back Goncalo Inacio.

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