Liverpool Football Club have smashed the world record transfer fee, for a defender, with the £75 million signing of Virgil Van Dijk which was announced on the 27th December. The player will join LFC on the 1st January and will be available for the Merseyside derby in the FA cup round 3 tie on January 5th.
The love affair between Van Dijk and The Reds began in the summer when it was announced that several ‘big clubs’ were interested in the 6 foot 4 inch Dutch and Southampton centre-back. Liverpool fans were given a boost when it was leaked that VVD’s preferred choice was a move to LFC. However, the ecstasy quickly turned to disappointment when Southampton reported The Reds to the Premier League over an alleged illegal approach for the Dutch defender leading to Liverpool issuing an apology and publicly ending their interest in the player. Despite the worry of a potential transfer embargo some fans still had faith in the deal for Van Dijk being done, prior to the summer transfer deadline, as the Southampton centre-back had handed in a transfer request on the 7th August and appeared to have his heart set on joining LFC. Nonetheless, a deal didn’t materialise and Van Dijk remained a Southampton player, at least, for the time being. VVD was injured for the start of the season and didn’t appear in the Southampton squad until 16th September in a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace. Van Dijk has appeared 12 times for Southampton this season, once as a substitute, and his performances for The Saints this season have been inconsistent as the Dutchman has appeared to be unhappy at the club throughout the whole saga.
Southampton left Van Dijk out of their squad to face Huddersfield on the 23rd December leading to contrasting reports stating that Liverpool and Manchester City were leading the race to sign the 26-year-old. Van Dijk was once again left out of the Southampton squad for their trip to play Tottenham at Wembley on Boxing Day with Mauricio Pellegrino explaining as to why Van Dijk was again not included in the squad: ‘I decided it is best for the team and there has been a lot of speculation’. Just a day later, the Van Dijk to Liverpool speculation intensified and it was announced a £75 million fee for the Dutchman had been agreed and Van Dijk confirmed over Social Media that he’d agreed to join the club. For Liverpool fans, it is the perfect Christmas present and is a vital defensive addition as their collapse against Arsenal at the Emirates on the 22nd December highlighted, once again, our back four frailties.
There are, unsurprisingly, some questions being asked over the £75 million fee, but for Liverpool fans it’s a relief as Fenway Sports Group are ‘finally’ beginning to show they’re able to compete with the best. Van Dijk doesn’t just have defensive qualities; his height gives him the advantage in aerial duels, he is happy to stand over free-kicks and has shown in the past he has the ability to score them. People have a right to question the fee: £75 million is a massive amount. However, the addition of VVD to LFC isn’t just about signing a defender. Virgil Van Dijk is a proven leader. He has been captain of Celtic and Southampton showing that the 26-year-old has the capabilities of leading the team from the back – something Liverpool have missed since the days of Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. As well as this, Liverpool fans have been begging the club to sign a defender for a long time. The 2013-14 season was the first real indication that The Reds needed to strengthen their defence as we finished second in the league. This was, despite scoring 101 times, we conceded 50 goals – almost double the amount that 3rd place Chelsea conceded during the same season.
Van Dijk began his professional career at Dutch club Groningen and moved to Celtic in 2013 for a small fee of £2.6 million on a 4-year deal. Van Dijk was successful at the Scottish Champions as he finished in the SPL team of the season and won the league in both of his seasons in Scotland. Van Dijk’s Celtic debut came against Aberdeen as he came off the bench to play the final 13 minutes in the 2-0 victory over The Dons. Van Dijk’s first goal for Celtic came on the 9th November against Ross County as he scored a header in each half in a 4-1 victory. One of VVD’s best goals for the club came on Boxing Day 2013 when a terrific solo run by the Dutchman within the first 5 minutes became the only goal of the game.
Van Dijk spent just over two seasons at Celtic, appearing 115 times for The Bhoys – the Dutch centre-back scored 15 times and kept 57 clean sheets.
Southampton signed Van Dijk from Celtic on the 1st September 2015 for a fee of £13 million. The Dutch defender made his debut for The Saints 11 days later in a 0-0 draw against West Brom. During 2 and a half seasons at the club, Van Dijk played 80 games for Southampton and scored on 7 occasions. Van Dijk was pivotal for The Saints over his time at the club and was made Southampton’s club Captain when Jose Fonte left the club to join West Ham in January 2017.
Van Dijk is now the world’s most expensive defender and, although there is a debate at the moment as to whether he is worth the £75 million fee, there is no debate that he is exactly what Liverpool have needed for a long time and can quickly become a very important player for The Reds. Potentially, the key to unlock our future success.
Article by Jack Gill
For more Redmen TV content including podcasts, subscriber exclusives and three new shows every week subscribe now and get your first month for FREE bit.ly/RMTVjoin