Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk has the power to force through a move to Liverpool despite having five years left on his contract at the St Mary's Stadium, according to former Reds striker John Aldridge.
Van Dijk, 26, is currently training away from the rest of the Southampton squad after informing manager Mauricio Pellegrino of his desire to leave the south coast for Merseyside. The Saints are still hopeful of keeping their skipper away from the clutches of Liverpool et al, but Aldridge thinks the Netherlands international will get his move to Anfield if he forces the issue in the coming weeks.
"Jurgen Klopp knows what he wants and he wants quality, there's no point in signing peripheral players just for appearances," Aldridge told the Independent.ie. "You need to sign players who have that x-factor, and Van Dijk has that, he's one of the best centre halves in the Premier League, Keita is possibly one of the best in Europe in his position.
"You have to focus on them and not settle for second-best, which Liverpool have done in the past.
"It's a business now more than ever, when you can talk about €180 million for a player like Kylian Mbappe. For an ex-player of my era it's crazy money but you have to pay crazy prices these days.
"Players are very powerful now. If they want to move they will move, if the likes of van Dijk want to force their way out, they can. Players are so strong now and contracts are not worth the paper they are written on.
"Southampton know van Dijk is unhappy, Liverpool want him. So it seems van Dijk will move."
Liverpool announced the end of their pursuit of Van Dijk in June after Southampton were left fuming by their perceived illegal approach of the former Celtic star. The Reds' interest never truly went away but Southampton will not make negotiations easy for Jurgen Klopp's side, who may have to shell out a fee of around £60m in order to recruit their top defensive target.