Van Dijk went on to join Liverpool in January 2018 for a then world-record £75m fee and has since taken the team to a new level, producing an endless series of commanding performances at the back.
That season actually saw United finish above Jurgen Klopp’s side in the Premier League table, but their frailty over the 2018-19 campaign demonstrated just how badly the club needed a defender like Van Dijk.
According to the Independent‘s Miguel Delaney, Mourinho had the chance to bring Van Dijk to Old Trafford, but turned down the prospect having already signed Victor Lindelof in that window and Eric Bailly in the season before.
United’s hierarchy eventually came to their senses this summer and signed Harry Maguire, their own Van Dijk, a steely and imposing Premier League defender who brings a sense of thrust to things at the back.
Solskjaer is following the right kind of idea, and placing Maguire at the top of his list was an obvious aspect of that. A player of that quality and stature is necessary for creating a foundation upon which to build a more daring, more successful team for the future.