Southampton should have pushed through Virgil van Dijk's reported move to Liverpool earlier

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino looks on durin the Pre Season Friendly match between Brentford and Southampton at Griffin Park on July 22, 2017 in Brentford, England.

With Virgil van Dijk reportedly set to force through his retracted move to Liverpool, Southampton may rue the delay.

Virgil van Dijk's desire to join Liverpool looked set to form one of the sagas of this transfer window, with the Liverpool Echo identifying the Southampton defender as a Reds target back in April.

Jurgen Klopp's side are desperate for a new centre-back ahead of their return to the Champions League, but any move for Van Dijk looked to be off the cards when they were forced to apologise to the Saints for their approach - as reported by the Liverpool Echo.

An injured Virgil van Dijk of Southampton leaves the ptich during the Premier League match between Southampton and Leicester City at St Mary's Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Southampton,...

However, with less than two weeks until the new Premier League season, the Daily Mail are reporting that Van Dijk could yet join Liverpool as Southampton have identified a replacement in Wesley Hoedt.

This follows a report from the Daily Echo claiming that the Saints were hopeful Van Dijk could be reintegrated into Mauricio Pellegrino's first team squad.

While Hoedt would offer a like-for-like replacement, Southampton fans will now wonder why a deal has been left this late if their star defender was always going to be allowed to leave.

The reported £60million fee would give Pellegrino money to use in the closing weeks of the window, but he must now reinvest the money while juggling league commitments.

The Saints head into the season without a full-strength defensive line-up and will rue the delay if they do not make the most of a favourable fixture list to start the season.

Virgil van Dijk of Southampton reacts during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Norwich City and Southampton at Carrow Road on January 7, 2017 in Norwich, England.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch