West Ham's Slaven Bilic: Player power in transfer market 'massive'
LONDON -- Virgil van Dijk's stand-off with Southampton is just the latest example of the player power that clubs now have to face in the transfer market, according to West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, who suffered similar problems with Dimitri Payet last season.
The Hammers travel to St Mary's on Saturday and Van Dijk will not be playing, since he remains in dispute over Saints' refusal to sell him.
Liverpool withdrew their approach for the Dutch defender in June after an official complaint from Southampton, but with two weeks of the transfer window remaining, Van Dijk is still not training with Mauricio Pellegrino's first team.
He has also been dropped from the Netherlands national team for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers as Southampton hold firm, but as the Hammers decided in January, they may eventually cut their losses on a player who has been valued at over £50 million.
"We were in that situation last year and it wasn't the first time," said Bilic "It is more and more now but it didn't start last year. At the end of the day it's your problem, because when it finishes you are missing something on the pitch."
Payet was sold back to Marseille in January for £25m, having signed a new contract the previous February, while Van Dijk signed a six-year contract with Southampton in May of last year.
"It's a club problem but at the end of the day, it's the manager's problem and it's happening now with [Liverpool's Philippe] Coutinho, with [Antonio] Conte and [Chelsea's Diego] Costa or whoever," he said referring to a series of transfer wrangles that have been a feature of this summer.
Bilic continued: "Ask me about the power of the player. Of course, the power of the agents and all that, it is massive, and you can't say that we have to fight it. We have to live with it and we have to try to find the best possible solution for the club.
"Is it hard? It is very hard. Is it becoming every year harder? That's why I say the football game is very simple but the manager's job is a very complicated job. And that's it. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose on the pitch and off the pitch."
West Ham visit St Mary's after losing 4-0 in their opening match at Manchester United. Southampton drew 0-0 with Swansea.
John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.