I don’t think there has been a player more heavily linked throughout the course of the window than Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.
He, alongside Naby Keita, have been in the press the most and it’s only fitting that we here at FOL have a piece out on him. Southampton saw a change in head coach as former manager Claude Puel was relieved of his duties and former Reds defender Mauricio Pellegrino was made in charge. Well, Southampton you have our former defender now you can give us yours right? Eh? Virgil Van Dijk was a part of the stalwart Southampton defence which stopped a prolific Liverpool team from scoring against them in four meetings- more than 360 minutes of football!
If Liverpool are able to secure the signing of Virgil van Dijk this will be a real statement and one which will surely strengthen Liverpool’s title chances for the upcoming season. Virgil van Dijk was a regular in the Saints backline until he was hit by injury which hampered his season. As van Dijk is 26 this means that he is at the right age where he has the invaluable experience to offer and still has a number of years in the top flight.
What kind of a player is Virgil van Dijk?
Virgil van Dijk is a Dutch defender who is 6’4” in height and as he possesses this tall frame he will be an asset to Liverpool in both boxes. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet and does have a great eye for a pass even if he is playing centre back.
Van Dijk 2016/17
1 Shot Per 90
85% Pass Accuracy
4.6 Aerial Duels per 90
Ball Playing Centre Back#LFC pic.twitter.com/Zj2V232XvL
— Friends of Liverpool (@friendsoflfc) July 11, 2017
Now, these are great statistics from a defender of his breed. If he joins, will be head and shoulders above the defenders we currently have at the club. These are all “if’s” and “buts”, though, it will only matter when he puts pen to paper and signs the contract for Liverpool.
Virgil van Dijk VS Dejan Lovren VS Joel Matip:
So let’s have a look at how van Dijk compares to two of the defenders we already have at our club.
RED – Virgil van Dijk
BLUE – Dejan Lovren
ORANGE – Joel Matip
These stats are per 90 mins
I can’t seem to stress the importance of signing someone like Virgil van Dijk and what he will bring to this Liverpool squad. Not just depth wise, but he would be straight into the Liverpool XI no questions asked and he will make that lacklustre defence look like something else. Don’t get me wrong, Dejan Lovren is a very capable defender but he is a player whom I think we can do better off and he is a fantastic number three to have if any of the first two get injured or suspended.
A standout aspect of van Dijk’s game is that he is able to read the game really well which is an essential skill for a centre back in Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 system. This means that if van Dijk is to join he will be very comfortable in seeking out the danger and being able to deal. With Virgil’s 6’4” feet tall frame he is an absolute monster in the air and is able to win literally anything. This as mentioned will help Liverpool in both boxes. Virgil despite his big aura he is quite quick on the ball and is able to catch strikers without any problem.
Probably the best thing that I find from van Dijk’s game is his passing range and his eye for a pass. He is the physical manifestation of a Ball Playing Defender this is vital to Klopp as we have seen when teams sat back against Liverpool, it left their defenders having a lot of time on the ball and Lovren and Matip aren’t particularly the greatest with the ball at their feet and hence missed the killer pass through. If Virgil van Dijk is acquired then this will surely be taken care of.
Something different that van Dijk offers that maybe many other defenders don’t is that he carries the ball forward if there isn’t a passing lane. This has seen him actually scoring by picking the ball in his own half and running the whole length of the pitch to score for Celtic.
All in all, I feel that Virgil van Dijk is the complete package who can do it all and Liverpool shouldn’t hesitate even after considering the price tag he is worth it!