It was all supposed to be a good-natured gesture to suggest Van Dijk, who cost £75million, really was worth his weight in gold following his debut goal against Everton.
JAMIE CARRAGHER REVEALS RUMOUR ABOUT VIRGIL VAN DIJKBut police arrived at the scene shortly before 9am as the Paddy Power plan backfired.
They demanded to see safety paperwork and, when that was produced, were still not satisfied it met their requirements.
Four police cars then arrived and ordered the statue to be taken down immediately and insisted it was due to fears of a ‘bomb threat’.
They then slapped the lorry driver with Van Dijk on his vehicle a fixed penalty notice before he left the area – with Van Dijk back on board.
A Paddy Power news release read: “The statue, which was based on the great big fee Liverpool paid for Virgil van Dijk, arrived on a whopping flatbed lorry at around 5am in the morning.
“Under the cover of darkness, yes, but it’s still difficult to hide a giant golden man that took 180 hours to make.
“Construction workers – and a crane – worked to get the defender in an upright position, with help from scaffolding, a lot of metal framework and some hard hats. The process took around two hours from start to finish, and there he stood, looking proud over his new home.
“But, as these things often do, the attention didn’t go unnoticed by Anfield safety officials who were not one bit impressed with their new addition.
“Before we knew it, the local police were called amid concerns of terror or a bomb threat. Yep, things escalated very quickly.
“Four squad cars turned up and it was decided that the statue needed to come down… Understandable, but easier said than done.
“We’d also like to add – that we worked entirely with the builders to make sure the structure was as safe as a backline containing Virgil van Dijk. We also made sure to comply fully with all police requests.
“When we hoped for an explosive reaction to the stunt… This isn’t quite what we had in mind.”
A Merseyside Police statement following the incident read: “Merseyside Police can confirm officers were called to the junction of Anfield Road and Alroy Road in Anfield this morning, Sunday 14th January, following reports a HGV was blocking the road.
“The driver of the vehicle was issued with a fixed penalty notice for highway obstruction. The vehicle has since left the area.”
Liverpool’s deal for Van Dijk made him the most expensive defender in the history of the game.
It is just the latest mega-money football transfer following Neymar’s £198million switch to PSG last summer, when even the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain commanded a £40million price-tag.
It later emerged that Van Dijk will MISS the match through injury.
Express Sport understands the £75million centre-back, who netted on his debut in a 2-1 FA Cup win over Everton, has been ruled out with a tight hamstring.
It means Jurgen Klopp is poised to recall Dejan Lovren to the side to face league leaders City, who haven’t lost a game all season.
City haven’t won at Anfield for 15 years but they have never been in better form having cruised to a 15-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
They crushed the Reds 5-0 last time they met after Sadio Mane was sent off.