Transfer windows are generally showers of s**t.
Constant rumours, speculation and source-quoting results in a lawless Wild West that is often difficult to traverse.
Which is why we appreciate the calming, reassuring presence of a reliable food chain — and they don’t come more reliable than this.
At the bottom of this particular food chain, we have Celtic.
Glasgow’s green and white may be the top dogs of Scottish football but they’re the prey of choice for Premier League middle-of-the-roaders Southampton.
The Saints have plucked three key players from Celtic in recent times… and Jos Hooiveld.
Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk were signed between 2013-2016 with two of those players having moved on to ‘top six’ clubs.
Which brings us onto Southampton’s main predator, Liverpool.
The path from the south coast to Merseyside has been a congested one in recent years.
Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane and Nathaniel Clyne have made successful moves north.
The same can’t be said for Dejan Lovren and poor Rickie Lambert — the Croatian centre-back has become a punchline among football fans while Lambert limped to just three goals in 36 games for his boyhood club.
Van Dijk is the most recent defector, continuing his path up the food chain gleefully.
Liverpool like to think of themselves as big fish, and they are, but they must be wary of sharks.
Anfield has always played host to world-class players but if a star shines too brightly it attracts the attention of Catalan giants.
Barcelona have plucked Javier Mascherano, Luis Suarez and now Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool’s ranks in recent times.
Each time the departing player has left a sizeable hole the club have struggled to fill — a problem they’ll be hoping to avoid in the aftermath of Coutinho’s exit.
Barca happily sit at atop of the food chain though their position has been called into question ever since PSG activated Neymar’s £198million release clause.
Generally, they don’t let a player leave unless they’re happy with the deal.
Let’s take a look at how much money as been pumped through this line since 2010…
Transfer fees paid by Southampton to Celtic – £36.85m (4 players)
Transfer fees paid by Liverpool to Southampton – £170.5m (6 players)
Transfer fees paid by Barcelona to Liverpool – £239.5m (3 players)
Van Dijk is the only player in with a realistic chance of playing for every club in the chain.
You know what to do, Barca…