Manchester United chose to sign Victor Lindelof instead of Virgil van Dijk, according to a former team-mate of the Dutchman’s.
Eyebrows were raised over the fee at the time, but Van Dijk has been a revelation since moving to Anfield.
The centre-back has been a key part of Liverpool’s recent success, which includes triumphs in the Premier League and the Champions League.
However, things could have turned out very differently had Manchester United made a different decision, according to ex-Southampton striker Charlie Austin.
The now-QPR forward has claimed that United could have signed Van Dijk in the summer of 2017 but chose to recruit Victor Lindelof instead.
Jose Mourinho’s side spent £40m to bring the Sweden international to Old Trafford from Benfica.
“I remember at the back end of his Southampton career we were on the bench together at Chelsea away, I asked him, ‘come on Virg, what’s going on? Surely Man United must have been in for you?,” Austin told talkSPORT.
“He told me, ‘you know what, Chaz, in the summer it was between me and Lindelof, and they signed Lindelof’.
“I was like, ‘you are joking!’
“I don’t know if anyone knows that. I couldn’t believe it, I was gobsmacked. There was talk in the summer that he was going to go there, but they’ve gone and taken Lindelof instead.
“At the time, the manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, got everybody on the pitch in pre-season, including Virg, and he told everyone, ‘look lads, Virgil wants to go, the club are not allowing him to go, so he’s not going to play. He’s not going to train with us’.
“I remember, Virg was gobsmacked because there was no heads up from the manager, nothing, he just said, ‘you’re going to train over there with the fitness coach and physio’.
“Ultimately he didn’t move in the summer, two days later the transfer window had shut and Virg was started again on the Saturday.
“He apologised to the lads but we were all like, ‘Virg, we understand, you’re linked with Man United and Liverpool and you wanted to go, that’s fine by us. We were just happy he was still there because of the quality he brought to the team.”
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