Jürgen Klopp warns Virgil van Dijk about unfriendly return to St Mary's

Jürgen Klopp warns Virgil van Dijk about unfriendly return to St Mary's

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has warned his latest signing Virgil van Dijk to expect an unfriendly return to St Mary's when Liverpool face Southampton on Sunday.

Joshua Kerr

Liverpool travel to face Southampton on Sunday with the game being the first meeting between the two sides since Virgil van Dijk swapped the south coast for Merseyside in January.

Van Dijk followed in the footsteps of Liverpool teammates Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Sadio Mane by swapping St Mary’s Stadium for Anfield last month and is set to play against his former club for the first time since his transfer this weekend.

The 26-year-old became the worlds most expensive defender in history when he joined Liverpool for £75m last month, and Klopp believes the Saints will want to prove a point to their former team-mate this weekend.

During his pre-match press conference at Melwood on Friday, Klopp was asked about the reception he expects the Dutchman to receive from the home crowd.

“I don’t know exactly but probably it will not be the most friendly,” the manager replied.

The former Celtic defender made 80 appearances for Southampton which included 7 goals for the club before making the move the Dutchman so desperately wanted.

Van Dijk made it clear of his intentions to join Liverpool in the summer transfer window.

While no official bid was submitted after Southampton's anger at leaked reports suggesting a deal was all but done, the Merseyside club had made it clear their willingness to spend £60 million-plus to sign the player.

Southampton reported an illegal approach with Van Dijk having spoken to Liverpool before a bid had been accepted by his club, forcing an embarrassing public apology in which Liverpool insisted they had "ended any interest in the player."

Klopp focussed on result, not Van Dijk reception

Since his move, Van Dijk has endured a mixed start to life on Merseyside. The clubs record signing made a dream debut for the Reds scoring an 84th-minute winner at the Kop end against Liverpool's local bitter rivals Everton in the FA Cup.

However, in his latest outing, Van Dijk was involved in a controversial last-minute penalty collision with Erik Lamela that cost the Reds two points as Harry Kane scored a penalty to rescue Spurs a point against their top-four rivals in a thrilling 2-2 stalemate

Van Dijk's new German manager believes that the Southampton fans have been good with previous players in the past but insists a result is all the club are really focusing on.

“The people in Southampton, since I am in, they were always really nice with Clyney, I don’t know exactly why; Adam Lallana, obviously they missed the most; Dejan Lovren; Sadio Mane I think was OK, I’m not 100 percent sure, and then Virgil is the last one so that’s how it is," Klopp said.

“I really understand that but it’s nothing we really think about," the German continued. "It will be more normal in the future but now we have to go there and play football and nothing else. 

“I absolutely don’t think anybody in Southampton would say we’ve stolen him or something, it was a very public deal and the numbers - even when they are not 100 percent right - I think OK, maybe they are really happy and they would say ‘thank you for all the money we have now’!”