Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expects a frosty reception for Virgil Van Dijk when the world’s most expensive defender returns to Southampton for the first time since his £75 million (85m euros, $104m) January move.
Despite Van Dijk scoring the winner in an FA Cup Merseyside derby on debut against Everton, the Dutchman hasn’t had an easy start to his Liverpool career with Klopp’s men failing to win in his last three appearances against Swansea, West Brom and Tottenham.
Klopp admitted he will speak to Van Dijk about maintaining his concentration at St. Mary’s, but expects him to rise above the baiting.
“We are all human beings, we are influenced by circumstances. It will not be a normal game, how can it be?
“I think how football fans are, they want to disturb everything we try to do to help their team and they will whistle.
“Is it nice? I don’t think so. Will it have influence? I don’t think so.”
However, Van Dijk is far from the only former Saint set to feature for Liverpool on Sunday.
Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane have all followed the same route north to Anfield in recent seasons, whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also starting his career at Southampton before joining Liverpool from Arsenal in August.
And Klopp believes rather than anger, some Southampton fans might be grateful for the hundreds of millions their club has cashed in on from Liverpool.
“I don’t think Southampton will say we have stolen him. It was a really public deal,” Klopp said in reference to the Van Dijk signing.
“They may say thank you for all the money they have.”
However, Klopp believes Liverpool’s persistent interest in Southampton players is a testament to Saints’ academy.
“There are a few good players from there so maybe we should have a scouting department at Southampton,” Klopp joked.
“It shows the good work they do down there.”