Finally, a saga that has been surrounded by controversy, Virgil Van Dijk has signed for Liverpool Football Club in a deal that will see him under contract until 2023. With a world record fee for a defender of £75m agreed, Southampton have parted ways with their former captain who made 80 appearances for the club. Van Dijk will wear number 4.
The centre-back has reportedly put pen to paper on a deal worth £180,000 a week and is being touted as a future captain of the club already. Possessing real leadership qualities and the ability to command a defence, Van Dijk’s presence amongst promising young defenders such as Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold should have a real positive impact on the club’s future.
Jurgen Klopp and the transfer committee had been chasing Van Dijk all summer but following some text messages that were leaked between the Liverpool boss and the player; the deal fell flat on its face. FSG then issued a public apology agreeing to end their pursuit of Van Dijk after Southampton threatened to report Liverpool’s handling of the situation to the Premier League.
However, Southampton have become unwilling to keep an unhappy player at the club and have agreed that £75m is a suitable fee for the player’s services. The previous world record fee for a defender was for Kyle Walker – whom Manchester City splashed £54m on last summer. The deal also equals the transfer of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United as the second most expensive in English football – behind the £89m purchase of Paul Pogba.
Liverpool have finally acquired a top-level centre-back, something that fans have been crying out for. Ultimately, the player will be judged on the £75m price tag right away, although, to compete with not only the best in the league but world football – this kind of transfer is a statement of intent and one that should be applauded not criticised.
At 26 years of age, Van Dijk is arguably in his prime but may take some time to bed into Klopp’s side given the high intensity of his philosophy. Supposedly, Klopp was one of the biggest reasons behind Van Dijk’s choice of destination – with Manchester City and Chelsea also making their interest known but being pipped by Liverpool for his signature.
Van Dijk’s transfer will be finalised on January 1st, making the player potentially available for Liverpool’s Premier League match against Burnley on New Year’s Day. Whether Klopp throws Van Dijk straight in remains to be seen, as Liverpool then face Everton in the 3rd round of the FA cup just four days later.