A former team mate of Virgil van Dijk has opened up on how close he came to signing for Manchester United.

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

During the latter stages of his career St Mary’s, Van Dijk pushed for a move to Anfield and eventually got his wish, but striker Charlie Austin reveals that United was a possible option at one stage.

Austin, who played alongside Van Dijk while at Southampton, says that Van Dijk once told him that United had the option of signing him or Victor Lindelof, and decided to go with the latter.

United signed Lindelof from Benfica in the summer of 2017, and Austin says that it was down to either the Sweden international or Van Dijk at the time.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Austin said: “I remember at the back end of his Southampton career we were on the bench together at Chelsea, and I said to him ‘come on Virg, what’s going on? Surely Man United must have been in for you’”

“He said to me, ‘in the summer, it was between me or Lindelof’. I couldn’t believe it, I was gobsmacked. There was talk in the summer that he was going to go there and they got Lindelof instead.

“The manager was (Mauricio) Pellegrino at the time, and in the summer he (Van Dijk) was looking to go.

“I remember him (Pellegrino) getting everybody round in pre-season, everyone on the pitch including Virg, and just said ‘look lads, Vigil wants to go, the club are not allowing him to go, so he says he’s not going to play so he’s not going to train with us’, in front of everyone.

“He (Van Dijk) was gobsmacked, there was no heads up from the manager or anything. It was more down the line of stamping his authority.

“Two days the later transfer window shut and Virg was starting again on the Saturday.

“He apologised to the lads, but we just said ‘Virg, we understand, you were linked with Liverpool and you wanted to go, it’s fine by us’, we were just happy that he was here because of the quality that he brought.”

Asked whether Van Dijk would have moved to Old Trafford had the chance come along, Austin replied: “I’m not sure, I think he had his heart set on going to Liverpool”.