Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk this afternoon made his return to first-team action for the Saints during their Premier League matchup with Crystal Palace.
Van Dijk, who enjoyed a stellar campaign last season to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s most in-demand defenders, made no secret of his desire to move on from Southampton during the recently-closed transfer window, with the Dutchman having gone as far as to hand in an official transfer request.
However, the board at St. Mary’s remained adamant all summer that they would not be willing to part ways with their crown jewel for any less than his reported £50 million+ price-tag.
In the end, neither of the 26-year-old’s main suitors, Chelsea or Liverpool, were prepared to fork out such a massive sum, with Van Dijk left with no option but to remain at St Mary’s for the 2017/18 season.
The stopper was forced to train alone during pre-season and the start of his side’s Premier League campaign, but has today officially returned to Mauricio Pellegrino’s first-team.
He was introduced as an 87th minute substitute as the Saints recorded a 1-0 victory during Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge at Selhurst Park, receiving a mixed reaction from his side’s travelling supporters.