(Reuters) - Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is prepared for a frosty reception on his return to Southampton but has said he is only focussed on a win at his former club.
Liverpool made Dutchman Van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender by splashing out a world record 75 million pounds in the January transfer window after failing to agree terms during acrimonious dealings in the close season.
Van Dijk, who has made a mixed start to life at Anfield, returns to the south coast for the first time since his move and is fully aware of what the fans could have in store for him.
“Maybe they can boo the whole game. You can’t do anything about it,” Van Dijk said.
“Obviously it’ll be nice to see the players and the friends I have there but, for me, it is going to be about one thing only and that is to win the game.”
Van Dijk scored the winning goal on his Liverpool debut as they beat city rivals Everton 2-1 in their FA Cup third round last month but was injured for the 4-3 home win that ended leaders Manchester City’s unbeaten run in the league.
Liverpool have won once with Van Dijk in the team, losing 3-2 to West Bromwich Albion and drawing 2-2 with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, with the Dutchman conceding an injury-time penalty that allowed striker Harry Kane to equalise.
“With the football we play, the pressing, the different options with players, it is totally different here,” Van Dijk added. “So you need time to get used to everything but I am working on it every day together with the team.
“The most important thing is what happens at Melwood and what happens here with the people who care about the team... other people around, fans of other clubs, pundits, they can have their opinions, but it doesn’t really bother me.
“I am talking with the manager and everyone who can help me out. I want to improve and get the maximum out of myself and that is what I am going to do.”
Liverpool are third in the table with 51 points while Southampton are 15th with 26 points.
($1 = 0.7166 pounds)
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly