Failed Liverpool move finally explained by upcoming opponent – ‘I wanted to join them’

Duje Caleta-Car playing for Southampton Credit: Alamy
Duje Caleta-Car playing for Southampton Credit: Alamy

Liverpool tried to sign Duje Caleta-Car in January 2021, but will be playing against him over 18 months later – and the Southampton star has finally explained his experience of the failed transfer.

Midway through the season in which they were defending their Premier League title, Liverpool were rocked by a range of defensive injuries.

Centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip were all ruled out at the same time. In turn, Liverpool had to rely on younger options like Nat Phillips, or players featuring out of position.

Their temporary fix was to bring in Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke and Ben Davies on a permanent deal from Preston North End.

However, Kabak was returned to sender after his loan spell. What’s more, Davies never got to make his competitive debut for the club due to injuries of his own.

Liverpool have obviously since moved on, with the arrival of Ibrahima Konate that summer coinciding with the returns of their injured trio to provide a bit more stability.

But things could have turned out differently. Indeed, before bringing in Kabak, Liverpool were trying to pull off a late swoop for Marseille’s Caleta-Car.

The Croatia international was at an airport in Marseille, but never boarded his flight. The belief is that his French employers felt they wouldn’t have enough time to replace him, so turned their back on their agreement with Liverpool.

Caleta-Car instead got his Premier League opportunity 18 months later, when Southampton signed him. This weekend, he will be going up against the club that almost bought him.

Hence, he has been pausing to reflect on how things might have gone differently. Indeed, Caleta-Car has now given his take on how much he wanted to join Liverpool when that particular opportunity arose.

Duje Caleta-Car wanted to join Liverpool

“It happened really fast,” Caleta-Car told Hampshire Live.

“You know, they get a lot of injured players – central defenders – so my agent called me and said to me Liverpool is there.

“They are something different and I wanted to join them because Liverpool is one of the biggest clubs in the world.

“But it didn’t happen. There was something between Marseille and Liverpool but I don’t want to go into what happened.

“But now I’m here [at Southampton] and really enjoying it here in England. We play against Liverpool now so it’ll be a good test.”

READ MORE: Eight of Jurgen Klopp’s biggest transfer regrets during his time at Liverpool: Mane, Keita and more…

Caleta-Car has made seven appearances for Southampton so far. They might end up being the better club for him to receive regular gametime at.

Now 26 years old, Caleta-Car will have a point to prove about the progress he has been making.

Saturday’s visit to Anfield will be an interesting experience for Caleta-Car. Of course, he will be in the opposite changing room to the one he could have called his own had things turned out differently.

Now, he must focus on Southampton, where he has signed a contract until 2026.

READ MORE: Klopp responds to how FSG sale of Liverpool might impact January transfers; explains complicated preparation for Southampton clash

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