'Man Utd decided to sign Victor Lindelöf instead of Virgil van Dijk in 2017'

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Charlie Austin of Southampton celebrates after scoring his sides first goal with Virgil van Dijk of Southampton during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Southampton at Vitality Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England
Photo: Clive Rose/GETTY IMAGES

Former Southampton striker Charlie Austin has opened up on how close Virgil van Dijk came to signing for Manchester United in the summer of 2017.

Van Dijk was linked with a move to Old Trafford during his days at Southampton, before ultimately making the switch to Liverpool for a £75 million transfer fee in January 2018.

The Dutchman has since become one of the Reds' most important players and one of the world's best centre-backs.

On route to their first league title in 30 years, van Dijk anchored a defence that conceded 33 goals in 38 Premier League games.

But it could have been so different for the former Groningen and Celtic man.

In fact, he could have been wearing the red of Manchester instead of the red of Merseyside.

Speaking on talkSPORT Breakfast, Austin, who played alongside van Dijk whilst at Southampton, said:

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?

He told me, "You know what, Chaz, in the summer it was between me and Victor Lindelöf, and they signed Lindelöf."

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 Lindelöf instead.

When asked whether the Dutch defender would have joined United, Austin added:

I'm not sure, I think he had his heart set on Liverpool.

United ended up signing Lindelöf for £31 million during that summer and whilst the Swede is now closing in on 150 appearances for the Red Devils, the 26-year-old is yet to help them to a trophy.

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