After being omitted from Southamptons last two Premier League fixtures it comes as no surprise that Southampton have reached an agreement for the sale of Virgil Van Dijk. The sale has seemed inevitable for months, with the only question remaining was where the Dutch international would end up come the end of the January transfer window?
Reports recently suggested that Manchester City and Chelsea were set to enter the fold, with Antonio Conte suggesting teams need to financially compete with Man City, and it looks like Liverpool have taken the Italians advice and thrown down the gauntlet having agreed a £75 million transfer with the Saints.
Liverpool Football Club can confirm they have reached an agreement with Southampton for the transfer of Virgil van Dijk.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 27, 2017
Once completed, the transfer will break the record transfer fee for a defender, a record which was only set by Manchester City this past summer with their £52 million acquisition of Benjamin Mendy.
With Southampton reporting Liverpool to the Premier League during the summer for an illegal approach, having reportedly rebuffed a potential £60 million offer, it was always going to cost substantially more if Liverpool were to land their man for January.
However, it is likely to be a transfer that divides opinion.
Alan Shearer on Virgil van Dijk: “No, he is not worth £75m at all. Southampton could have named any price they wanted, Liverpool were desperate.” pic.twitter.com/VNKjiFYI4Q
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) December 28, 2017
Liverpool are in desperate need of a defensive overhaul, where their attack has been merciless when in full flow, they have been hindered by the frailties in defence. A perfect example of this would be the recent three all draw at the Emirates.
An early goal in the second half gave Liverpool a comfortable two goal lead, in a game where Arsenal looked a non existent opposition, Liverpools defence became lax, lost concentration, and after a 6 minute blitz they found themselves 3-2 down, with a goalkeeping error from Petr Cech sparing their blushes as they managed to take a point from the game.
A defensive leader is certainly a requirement at Liverpool, and at his time at Celtic and Southampton Van Dijk has shown his has many of the characteristics to be that player, but where what kind of player are they inheriting right now?
Almost a year ago to the day, Van Dijk was stretchered off against Tottenham, and has made only 12 Premier League appearances since. All of which have been since the close of the summer transfer window.
Since his head was turned by Liverpools interest in the summer, where he issued a transfer request in the form of a public statement, he essentially ended all loyalty as a Southampton player.
Unlike Liverpools own wantaway playmaker, Phillipe Coutinho, Van Dijks performances have lacked any commitment, and his form has been such that Pelligrino has felt his team would better off without him throughout the Christmas period.
So how will Van Dijk adapt to his new club?
Where he has been actively playing in the Premier League this season, it would be hard to imagine he’s attained a fitness level that would be acceptable under Jurgen Klopp.
There will remain questions over his form in the short term. He has not come back from injury to his brilliant best, whether that has been due to his lack of wanting to be at Southampton, or if its a confidence issue after a long term lay off, will remain to be seen. But with a hefty price tag will come exceptional expectations, with the spotlight on him any glaring mistakes will come under intense scrutiny.
OFFICIAL: Liverpool make one final bid to sign Virgil Van Dijk. 👀📝
Jurgen Klopp will not give up 😂🎅🏼 pic.twitter.com/cS2RN1LE3k
— SPORF (@Sporf) December 26, 2017
Liverpool fans may have to be patient before they see the best of the Dutch international, but with Naby Keita already poised to join, it should give them confidence going into next season.
Questions still remain over this transfer for Liverpool fans.
Where did this money come from? Was it readily available? Or is it coming from funds for a future Coutinho deal?