COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JUNE 28: Duje Caleta-Car of Croatia battles for possession with Alvaro Morata of Spain during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Round of 16 match between Croatia and Spain at Parken Stadium on June 28, 2021 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Martin Rose - UEFA)

“I wanted to” – Southampton defender reveals how close he was to Liverpool transfer

Ahead of the trip to Anfield in the Premier League, Southampton centre-back Duje Caleta-Car has revealed how close he was to joining Liverpool in 2021.

Caleta-Car has settled into a regular starting role at Southampton in recent weeks, and on Saturday could make his eighth appearance for the club.

That would come against the side he almost joined at the end of the mid-season transfer window in 2020/21, as Liverpool explored all options to solve their injury crisis.

Eventually, deals were struck to bring in Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies, but the likes of David Carmo, Gleison Bremer, Nevan Subotic, Shkodran Mustafi, Issa Diop and Eder Militao were all considered.

Talks over a move for Caleta-Car went so far as seeing the Croatian wait to board a flight as soon as an agreement was struck.

Marseille ultimately pulled out of negotiations, and after joining Southampton in an £8 million deal in the summer, Caleta-Car has now discussed the events of almost two years ago.

“It happened really fast,” he told the Daily Echo.

DUJE CALETA CAR ( Philippe LECOEUR via Images)

“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.

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

Duje Caleta-Car

Caleta-Car would certainly have been a more progressive signing than Davies, for example, with the Englishman having been moved on to Rangers in July after failing to make a single appearance.

But it is more likely that he would have fallen into the same bracket as Kabak – a promising defender who was not expected to earn a long-term future at Anfield.

Now, though, he has an opportunity to prove himself at Southampton, and will now do so under a new manager than that which brought him to the club, with Nathan Jones taking over from Ralph Hasenhuttl.

It remains to be seen who Jones will favour at the heart of his defence, with the likes of Armel Bella-Kotchap, Mohammed Salisu and Lyanco available along with Caleta-Car.