For all the attacking prowess a team possesses, it is incomplete without a solid defense. This is something Manchester City have learnt the hard way under Pep Guardiola this season. Virgil Van Dijk, a Netherlands international has clearly been one of the best center backs in the league ever since his move to Southampton from Celtic. During his time at Celtic, he established himself as a really exciting prospect in European football.
At Celtic, he became renowned as a no nonsense defender with ability on the ball. He was seen as a complete defender. 2 Scottish league titles and a handful of Champions League appearances later, he was again on the radar of several top clubs. Again, Van Dijk seemed to have made the right choice as he joined Southampton over some of the bigger clubs. The Saints had just lost Dejan Lovren to Liverpool and spent less than half of what they got for the Croat on Van Dijk.
In recent days, Virgil van Dijk has been linked with a move away from Southampton. There are several teams that could do with his defensive nuance and skill. None more so than Manchester City and Chelsea, who are short on numbers in defence. Both teams have the financial backing to sign Van Dijk in the blink of an eye, quite literally.
There have been talks of a certain release clause of around 25 million pounds in Van Dijk’s contract, but those rumours have been squashed by Southampton manager Claude Puel who insists that the Dutchman will stay put. For the kind of performances he has put in, a price tag of around 40 million makes more sense. The Saints should hold out for that kind of outlay until they part with Van Dijk’s services.
So which team would he suit better? Chelsea or Manchester City? Both teams could do with a player like him on their ranks. First up, Manchester City. The Citizens have spent big bucks on many a defender, but no one has quite lived up to the billing. Elequim Mangala, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones were all brought in for big sums of money but they are yet to showcase the skills that made The Citizens part with such high transfer sums to sign them. Mangala has been farmed out on loan, whereas Otamendi impresses in patches. Lastly, John Stones looks like a very expensive mistake.
The Englishman has made several high profile errors that have cost his team vital goals. For one of the world’s most expensive defenders, he hasn’t done much to prove himself and it seems as if he would’ve been better served by staying put at Everton, although he was unsettled in the summer and wanted to leave.
Van Dijk would certainly add a lot to a Manchester City defense that looks non-existent when Vincent Kompany is absent. For a man that stands at 6’4, Van Dijk is quite agile and is also comfortable with the ball at his feet, so he wouldn’t have any problems fitting in to Manchester City’s system under Pep Guardiola.
Chelsea are also in need of defensive re-enforcements. Since they started playing 3 at the back, they have been unbeatable and have only conceded a staggering 2 goals in 9 matchdays since the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal. Cahill, Azpilicueta and David Luiz are the undisputed starters under Conte, but Van Dijk could be brought in to give those 3 some much-needed competition. In reserve, Conte has only Terry and Ivanovic to turn to in case of an injury to his preferred starters.
Van Dijk would certainly thrive at Chelsea as he has all the attributes to do so. There has been talk that Chelsea have even made an enquiry to Southampton about signing the Dutchman in the January transfer window as they look to solidify their title charge.
Although he suits both the teams, Van Dijk would be better served moving to Manchester City where he will get the chance to test himself and rectify a leaky defense. Pep Guardiola could also have a major influence on his career. At 25, Van Dijk is still young but already shown a lot of maturity and experience. Pep could certainly do with signing him up, in order to rectify his mistakes from the summer transfer window.