Van Dijk praises ‘promising’ Liverpool target who would cost ‘record’ fee, shares thoughts on fine

Matt Stead
Virgil van Dijk is embraced by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Virgil van Dijk has offered his thoughts on a Liverpool target

Virgil van Dijk says Republic of Ireland and Brighton striker Evan Ferguson is one ‘for now and the future’ as Liverpool join the list of clubs who want him.

Ferguson is the joint top scorer in the Premier League so far this season after netting four times for Brighton, including a hat-trick in a victory over Newcastle.

The 18-year-old has 10 goals in 24 Premier League games and has inevitably attracted interest from some of Europe’s leading clubs, with Liverpool identifying him as a possible Mo Salah replacement.

Manchester United and Tottenham have also been linked, while Manchester City have already earmarked Ferguson as Erling Haaland’s successor.

It remains to be seen what sort of fee Brighton would demand for Ferguson, the Seagulls having made a fortune from selling their players recently.

Since the summer of 2020, Brighton have sold Anthony Knockaert for £15m, Ben White for £50m, Dan Burn for £13m, Yves Bissouma for £25m, Leo Ostigard for £4.5m, Marc Cucurella for £56m, Leandro Trossard for £20m, Alexis Mac Allister for £35m, Robert Sanchez for £25m and Moises Caicedo for £100m. Those 10 players were bought for a combined £63.7m and moved on for £343.5m, having made a mean average of just 66 Premier League appearances for the club.

Ferguson seems likely to follow them in guaranteeing Brighton a massive windfall.

Van Dijk will not get the chance to observe the teenager up close and personal when Ireland take on the Netherlands in World Cup qualifying on Sunday evening as Ferguson has picked up a knee injury.

But the centre-half had words of encouragement for the forward.

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“If you score a hat-trick just before the international break, then he was definitely going to be in a good shape and full of confidence,” he said.

“He looks like he’s a promising striker for Ireland for now and the future, and that’s definitely a big blow for them. But whoever is going to play tomorrow for them, we have to be ready to fight

“I know at home with their fans and their position and the situation that they are in, they will do everything in their power to hopefully make it difficult for us, but we have to be ready and I will be ready.”

Van Dijk also shared his thoughts on the £100,000 fine and additional one match ban he received for his reaction to being sent off in Liverpool’s win over Newcastle last month.

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Van Dijk, who initially refused to leave the pitch at St James’ Park, said: “It has been a hard and expensive lesson. I can’t really say more about it. I have accepted it and I am happy that there is an end to it.

“I have been punished for it and I don’t think I have been set as an example. Hopefully the money goes to the right people. A good cause is always better.”