Friday, January 27, 2023

Why Liverpool Must Do Everything They Can To Sign Van Dijk Even At A Ridiculous Price

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Josh Barker
Middlesbrough FC correspondent for The 4th Official.

Liverpool have had a busy transfer window and a busy deadline day. They have signed several big players. The most recent being Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal. They have also signed Mohammed Salah, Andrew Robertson and Dominic Solanke.

But while all of these players are solid signings, they have not addressed Liverpool’s biggest down fall. Their biggest downfall is their defence, mainly their centre back positions.

One player Liverpool have targeted to solve this problem is Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk. Van Dijk has been the recipient of transfer speculation for most of the summer now, most of it coming from Liverpool. Van Dijk clearly wants the move as he handed in a transfer request earlier this month.

However, Southampton did not want to sell the player and he has been training with the U23’s since the request was handed in. But now deadline day is here, Van Dijk still wants to leave and Liverpool needs a centre back. They need to sign Van Dijk at any cost. Here is why.

Firstly, Liverpool are in the Champions League this season after finishing 4th last year. So, the logical step up is to challenge for the title and to do well in the Champions League. The cold hard fact of it is though, Liverpool’s defence, mainly their central defenders, are not good enough.

Their main pairing Matip and Lovren are decent. But they are not Champions League quality defenders, nor title winning defenders. Take Chelsea for example, last year they won the Premier League because they had defenders like Garry Cahill and John Terry. Both of these centre backs are leaders who are not afraid to go into tackles/aerial duels. The same cannot be said for Matip and Lovren. Van Dijk, on the other hand, is a leader and would be the kind of centre back Liverpool could have as their leader in order to challenge for the Premier League.

Furthermore, when looking at how many goals Liverpool concede, you can see they need to sign Van Dijk. This season alone, their poor defending has already cost them one game. Liverpool drew 3-3 with Watford. Not because Watford outclassed them. But because Liverpool’s defending was awful and players like Matip were not up for it and challenging for every ball like Van Dijk would. This has been a problem for a while now.

Last season Liverpool conceded 44 goals in the Premier League. This is way too many for a top four team and it was because their centre backs are simply not good enough. An example of last season’s and this season’s defensive problems is best illustrated when you see that last season Bournemouth, a team that barely stayed up beat Liverpool 4-3. Liverpool should not be conceding four to teams like Bournemouth and it is largely due to their poor centre backs.

Their attack has always been fantastic and now they have added Salah and Chamberlain to it they could be unstoppable. But if they continue to play with such poor defenders they will concede too many goals and they won’t be able to win trophies.

Another reason Liverpool must sign Van Dijk is because Liverpool have very little cover in that area.  Apart from Matip and Lovren Liverpool have Mamadou Sakho and Ragnar Klavan as cover. However, Sakho could well be on the move today and has been out of favour with Klopp for some time anyway. This would leave Klavan as Liverpool’s only experienced first team centre back. Three centre backs are simply not enough and therefore Liverpool really need Van Dijk or they could end up without any centre back cover if injuries and suspensions crop up this season.

You can also look at Southampton’s defensive record to see how good a centre back Van Dijk is. Last season the Saints kept 14 Premier League clean sheets. Only two less than league winners Chelsea. Van Dijk played a big part in that as he was a rock at the back when fit.

As far as Van Dijk’s price goes, Liverpool may have to pay upwards of £60 million. But given how late Klopp has left it to sign a centre back. Also, how poor Liverpool’s current defensive options are, they may well have to pay the huge sum in order to finally sign the defender.

Further developments have occurred in the last few hours. According to reports Van Dijk to Liverpool does look set to go ahead. Ex Liverpool player David Thompson has said on twitter ‘Vvd on his way to Lfc. Some spending g (sic) going on from FSG’. This is good news for Liverpool fans as Van Dijk would be a great signing. However, it is understood that Mauricio Pellegrino will not listen to offers lower than £70 million. This would make Van Dijk the most expensive defender in the world.

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