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Virgil will finally get to step out at Anfield...

Byline: ADAM JONES ECHO Reporter adam.jones@liverpool.com @LIVECHOSPORT

IVERPOOL and Virgil van Dijk are finally about to get together.

LThe Dutch international was, of course, heavily linked with a move to Anfield in the summer - even going as far as submitting a transfer request which Southampton eventually turned down.

However, the 26-year-old is now finally about to come to Merseyside - to play against the Reds in the Premier League following this international break.

The defender has only recently made a comeback from an eight-month injury lay-off and is working his way back to full fitness.

Van Dijk has, in fact, now played 90 minutes in every one of Southampton's last five matches in all competitions.

And, despite giving away a penalty in his first start since the injury against Stoke City in September, the Dutchman's performances have been steadily improving - as would be expected from someone out with a long-term injury.

However, the results haven't been coming for the Saints.

That period has only provided one win and just a single clean sheet - both coming at home to West Brom where three points were only sealed by a fantastic solo Sofiane Boufal effort.

The trip to Anfield on November 18 could almost be seen as an audition for the Dutch international - if he's still interested in a move to Liverpool of course.

Recently, Van Dijk has tried to steer clear of any further rumours and tried to commit himself to Southampton, as you would with still two months to go until the next transfer window.

He told the Daily Echo this week: "I'm giving 100 per cent for the club, I work hard every day, I help my team-mates and I'm positive and I want to win every game.

"I'm happy and that's the most important thing. We'll see what happens."

But it can't be escaped that he will be playing at Anfield for the first time since a summer of controversy surrounding a possible move to Merseyside, with Liverpool eventually forced to issue a formal apology and withdraw their interest in the player.

During his time at Southampton, Van Dijk has only played away at Liverpool once before - a 1-1 draw in which Sadio Mane was incidentally sent off for the visitors.

With the Saints going into the upcoming fixture against the Reds in poor form, the centre-back will be vital to them if they are going to pick up anything at Anfield.

The eyes of the Kop will all be on the Dutch international, that much is undeniable. It'll be quite the baptism of fire to try and stop Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in this form.

Throughout a summer of speculation Van Dijk was seen as a vital cog for Liverpool if they wanted to be a success this season.

The fans wanted him, the club wanted him, he wanted the move - but Southampton wouldn't budge, which they had every right to do.

The Reds' defence this campaign has again been brought right to the forefront of debate with former Southampton man Dejan Lovren under particular scrutiny, coming to a head when he was withdrawn during the first half of that Spurs result.

You can guarantee Liverpool will at least be linked with a move for another centre-back in January - and Virgil van Dijk's name will no doubt be high in many wish lists.

If he still wants the gig, the match at Anfield could be the perfect time to prove to everyone in the stadium why Liverpool were prepared to pay such big money for him.

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Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 9, 2017
Words:601
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