United were in the market for defensive reinforcements back in the summer of 2017, with Jose Mourinho looking to stabilise his backline in a bid to improve on the season prior where United finished sixth.
Among a number of linked defenders was Virgil van Dijk, who had been excellent for two seasons with Southampton as they enjoyed a consistent period in the Premier League&aposs top half. Things never developed from what seemed to be rumour, however, and Mourinho looked closer to his homeland, signing Benfica&aposs Victor Lindelof.
It was presumed that links with Van Dijk were wide of the mark. But Charlie Austin, who was Van Dijk&aposs teammate at Southampton, revealed just how close the move was to happening.
I remember the back end of his Southampton career we were on the bench together at Chelsea away,” Austin told talkSPORT in 2021. I sat there and I said, Come on Virgil, whats going on, surely Man United mustve been in for you? Massive club in England, etc. He said, You know what Chaz, in the summer it was like between me or Lindelof and they signed Lindelof.
I was like, You are joking! Nobody knows that, he told me that on the bench. I couldnt believe it, I was just as gobsmacked as you. Obviously there was talk in the summer he was going to go there then theyve gone and taken Lindelof instead.