Why Signing Van Dijk From Southampton Would Cap Off Summer For Liverpool
Liverpool’s summer transfer window this year, has been dominated by two names since the start – Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita.
The club had been actively pursuing the transfers of the Southampton defender and the RB Leipzig midfielder with all vigour, but there was a point at which both the deals seemed dead in the waters.
Southampton reported Liverpool to the Premier League for tapping up Van Dijk illegally and as a result, the Reds had to issue a public apology to the Saints and withdraw their interest in the Dutchman. Keita’s deal too looked like it had hit a roadblock, with Leipzig in no mood to lose one of their star players, despite the huge amounts of money Liverpool were willing to offer.
Amidst all this though, the Merseysiders were quietly working on other strengthening other areas, apart from their two primary targets. They went out and broke their transfer record to sign Mohamed Salah from AS Roma for £36.9million, and went to add more options to their attack in the form of Dominic Solanke, who arrived for free after his contract with Chelsea expired.
The left-back area, which was such a position of worry for the Reds last season, was also addressed by the capture of Andrew Robertson from Hull City for a fee that could rise to £10million. Yet, there was disgruntlement among the fans over the club’s inability to sign Keita and Van Dijk. And, to add to the frustration, Barcelona decided to go hell for leather in their chase of playmaker Philippe Coutinho, after having sold their star man Neymar to PSG for a world-record €222million fee.
With all this going on, the new season kicked off and Liverpool, despite drawing their opening game 3-3 against Watford in the Premier League, looked a dangerous outfit. Their thorough dismantling of German outfit TSG Hoffenheim over two legs in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers that sealed a passage through to the group stages, sent out a big statement.
Between the two legs of the playoffs against Hoffenfeim, Liverpool forked out a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in the league. As if that wasn’t enough, the way they tore apart a woeful Arsenal last weekend to thrash them 4-0 at Anfield was sure to send the warning signs to the rest of the clubs.
The qualification to the group stages of the Champions League seems to have had a great effect on Liverpool’s transfer business. The deal for Keita, which looked dead, was revived. Liverpool have agreed to sign the 22-year old Guinean midfield powerhouse for a £48million fee next summer. Soon after, the Reds were able to beat Chelsea to the transfer of exciting midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal, with the England international having arrived for a £40million fee.
Now, they have upped the ante in the chase for Van Dijk as well, at the same time making three club-record bids for AS Monaco’s sensational winger Thomas Lemar. An agreement is likely to be arrived at before the deadline.
This represents some brilliant piece of business for the Reds this summer. Salah has already hit the ground running and looks like a tremendous signing for the club. The 25-year old has already netted thrice and has registered two assists in 5 games in all competitions and has turned the Liverpool attack into a more fearsome one, alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Andrew Robertson just has just played a single game, the 1-0 win over Palace, and looked the part against the Eagles, putting in a splendid display on his debut. Solid at the back, enterprising going forward, the Scotsman looks worthy of every penny of the £10million that Liverpool paid. Solanke may not have had a lot of first-team minutes yet, but he showcased his immense potential during the pre-season and will be ready for Klopp and Liverpool whenever they decide to call him up. He will definitely prove to be a steal.
Add to that, the signing of Keita. Even though if it’s for the next season, it is another morale-boosting one for the club. The 22-year old is a world-class player in the making and will take Liverpool to a whole new level. And despite reservations among some fans over the signing of Oxlade-Chamberlain, the 23-year old remains a wonderful talent and if nurtured carefully, he will reap them great benefits. With the potential arrival of an exciting and promising Lemar, the atmosphere around Anfield will be hitting the roof.
But there is one more thing that Liverpool need to get done. Despite all the impressive array of talents they have signed or are on the verge of signing, the central defence remains an important area that needs addressing. With four competitions to compete for, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan cannot be relied upon completely and Klopp will know that very well.
Signing a central defender could turn this Liverpool outfit into serious contenders for the Premier League title. Van Dijk is still up for grabs and wants to join the Reds and that is one transfer that would take Liverpool’s transfer business this window from brilliant to perfect.