Everton are prepared to make a massive bid to sign the Dutch international defender in the January transfer window…even if their manager knows deep down it could be mission impossible.
The Southampton centre half is a target for some of Europe’s biggest clubs like Manchester City , Chelsea and Juventus – but despite reports suggesting a move to the Etihad in the New Year, it is far more likely they will want to do business next summer.
And that has offered a glimmer of light to Koeman, who signed his fellow countryman when he was manager at St Mary’s and retains a close link with the Holland star.
It was Koeman who developed van Dijk into a top rank Premier League defender in just two seasons of working together, and that will inspire him to make a firm offer when the window opens on January 1…even if he admitted himself it is unlikely to succeed.
Asked how he will convince the player to come to Goodison the Blues boss conceded: “I was a player myself.
“If I was playing in Holland and I play for Southampton and I can choose between Manchester City and Everton then of course then if you can, make the step,” he said.
“Players like Van Dijk, ok. All players have a lot of ambition and we like to go, we like to finish and play to get into the Champions League. Players want to be involved in the Champions League.
“But we need to show as Everton that it’s really an interesting project. It is a project that is just starting and of course it will take time, but it is an exciting project.
“But once again, if you have the competition against those kind of teams then it’s always difficult.”
Koeman will attempt the impossible, because he is desperate to sign a centre half, with skipper Phil Jagielka finding it harder to repeat games, and the manager unconvinced about stand in Ramiro Funes Mori.
The Blues have the money – after investment from new major shareholder Farhad Moshiri – to bid £50m for van Dijk AND offer him the same £200,000 a week contract they have just agreed with star striker Romelu Lukaku to keep him at the club.
Even then, he knows it will be hard. “Of course maybe money can have an influence. But not on that contracts (the star players command),” Koeman added.
“If they (a top rival) offers to pay 10, and you pay 200, then maybe, but not if they pay five and you pay six. It is not an influence.”
Even if the Dutchman ultimately decides to wait for City in the summer, then Koeman wants to do plenty of business in the January window, after admitting he needs as many as five new signings in the new year.
“If I compare, I like to do more business now in January than we did last year in Southampton,” he said.
“It’s all about what we need. We will lose Gueye to AFCON. We have long term injury in Bolasie.
We have the physical problems with injuries of James McCarthy and we know Gareth Barry cannot play games every two or three days.
“We have Phil Jagielka in a tough period, with a lot to think about what’s the best 11 and what’s the most fresh 11 players. So we would like to do more business.”
The Dutch boss has the backing of his board, and he will be allowed to spend record figure in January if he identifies the right players…and he believes he is now in a much better position to find the pieces to his jogsaw, after being at Goodison for six months.
“You need always time to see the qualities in the squad. You need to learn about the characters in the team.
You need to see the balance in the team,” he said.
“It’s all about characters, strengths, weaknesses, what the team needs, more personalities, more key players. And of course finally you make your mind up.
“We had more time now for January than we had in the summer. Steve Walsh is in for a few months, new people in, new scouting. We are better prepared now than it was in the summer.”
Koeman is hoping keeper Maarten Stekelenburg will be back for Boxing Day’s visit to Leicester after scans showed he suffered a dead leg against Liverpool, but James McCarthy is ruled out with a hamstring injury for three weeks.