Van Dijk episode could spell bad news for Everton

Liverpool’s failure to sign Virgil van Dijk could have a negative impact across Stanley Park at Everton, who are now likely to face stiff competition for Michael Keane.

It looked almost certain that Liverpool would stave off competition from Chelsea and Manchester City to sign van Dijk for around £50million, when the defender told Jurgen Klopp that Anfield was his preferred destination should he leave Southampton this summer. But the Reds were forced to withdraw their interest, and issue an apology, when the Saints reported them for tapping up the player.

This has led to Klopp looking elsewhere for reinforcements to the heart of his back four, and it believed that the German coach is considering turning his attention to Keane. This will come as bad news across the city at Goodison Park, where Ronald Koeman has identified the England international as a key target as he looks to build an Everton side capable of challenging the top-four.

Sold by Manchester United for just £2million in 2015, Keane had been linked with a return to his former club but this now seems unlikely after Jose Mourinho agreed a £30million deal for Benfica’s Victor Lindelof. Tottenham Hotspur have also been linked with the player, but he would find it difficult breaking up the Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen partnership.

Although Burnley insist they are in no rush to sell Keane, the reality is he is in the final 12 months of his contract so they would be hard-pushed to refuse a sizable bid. It now looks like it could be a straight battle between the two Merseyside giants for the 24-year-old, who has two caps for England and has ambitions of making Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup next year.

United will recoup a quarter of the selling price for Keane, a clause they inserted when Louis van Gaal gave the green light to offload him to the Turf Moor club. The Clarets, should they accept defeat in their quest to keep the defender, are likely to demand around £25million to let him leave during the summer window.

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