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All that talk, all the back page headlines, all the speculation, and we end up where we started.

The summer transfer window opened with Virgil van Dijk very much a Southampton FC player.

And it slammed shut last night at 11pm with the Dutchman still very much a Southampton FC player.

No bids, no £70m offers, no pictures of van Dijk arriving at John Lennon Airport on Merseyside.

No nothing.

Now the fun starts.

Now it gets really interesting.

After all, we are talking about a player who handed in a transfer request less than a month ago after being fined two weeks wages.

We are talking about a player who has repeatedly told Saints he wanted to leave - half a year after signing a new six-year deal worth around £80,000 a week.

“Over the past six months I have held numerous discussions with representatives of the board, the former manager Claude Puel as well as the new manager Mauricio Pellegrino to inform them all of my desire to leave the club in search of a new challenge,” van Dijk said in a statement.

“I have been left frustrated by the club’s position that I am not for sale and am disappointed that enquiries from multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed.”

We must now presume he was left even more frustrated by the fact the transfer window shut and he remained at St Mary’s.

For once, thankfully, a player didn’t get things all his own way.

Prams were left without toys in, but Virgil van Dijk woke up this morning knowing he now faces a major bridge rebuilding exercise.

We can only guess at his fitness levels - bearing in mind he hasn’t played a single game since January 22 - but presume he will now rejoin his first team squad colleagues in training.

That is the easy bit, for his fellow Saints players are also his friends.

No, the hard part now for van Dijk is to try and win back the the affections of the St Mary’s fanbase.

That will not be easy, not when he issued the statement he did.

“I had very much hoped to retain the good relationship I’ve always enjoyed with everyone at the club, especially the fans, but unfortunately in light of everything that’s happened this has now been seriously affected,” van Dijk also said.

“The time for me to move on is now and I hope to be able to work with the club to find the best resolution to suit all parties.”

Nope, sorry Virgil, didn’t happen.

Saints worked hard to find the best resolution for themselves. Bear in mind, after all, that the club will always be bigger than one individual. And the best resolution for Saints was to keep one of their best players.

No, their best player.

For that they should be congratulated.

Players must realise they don’t hold all the cards these days.

They don’t always get what they want, and for that we must be grateful - even if Jurgen Klopp might not share that opinion.

Perhaps the ending might have been different had Liverpool played their cards another one earlier this summer.

If they hadn’t been forced into issuing a grovelling apology to Saints, van Dijk might well be a Red by now.

“Liverpool FC would like to put on record our regret over recent media speculation regarding Southampton FC and player transfers between the two clubs,” the statement said.

“We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk.

“We respect Southampton’s position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player.”

Perhaps Liverpool were telling the truth there. Perhaps they did end their interest at that stage.

Chances are they didn’t, though. They just needed Saints to contact them first, for Saints to force the issue so to speak.

But Saints were hardly likely to do that, where they?

The ball is not in van Dijk’s court, whether he likes it or not.

He has not got many options.

1) He can carry on refusing to make himself available for first team games. No doubt if he did, Saints can find some way of fining him. Though the first team would obviously be stronger if he did play, the recent signing of Wesley Hoedt at least gives Mauricio Pellegrino another good option.

And if van Dijk doesn’t play, and Hoedt does, then the latter could find himself going to the World Cup next summer. A World Cup van Dijk could be watching on tv at home.

Food for thought there, Virgil.

2) He can make himself available for Saints again.

Good news for Pellegrino, but van Dijk then faces the tough task of showing the fans he is mentally right for a return.

He hasn’t played since January. He is going to need a few games to get back in the swing of things. He could certainly do without making many - if any - mistakes in his first few matches, otherwise fans will say his still heart isn’t in it.

They could well be totally wrong, but that is a potential problem for van Dijk all of his own creation.

It is his problem, and no-one else’s.

Overall, then, how impressive was Saints’ work in the 2017 summer transfer window?

They kept van Dijk, which many fans would have thought unlikely back in May, and strengthened their central defensive and central midfield departments as well.

The club’s management have shown they are no longer prepared to be ridden rough-shod over by the Premier League’s elite.

I’m sure they never were, but the perception by some was totally different.

Fair play, then, to Ralph Krueger and Les Reed for remaining strong throughout the window at a very difficult time.

I would still have liked Saints to have added some extra pace, or brought in another striker.

Pellegrino only really has three striking options - Manolo Gabbiadini, Charlie Austin and Shane Long.

For a club who covet challenging for a European place, I ask the questions many supporters have continually posed - is that enough?

As always, time will tell.