Stefan de Vrij is set to leave Lazio on a free transfer this summer, after the Serie A side withdrew their contract renewal offer according to the club’s sporting director Igli Tare.
Speaking to Mediaset Premium last week, Tare said:
“Lazio have withdrawn the proposal we made to Stefan for a new contract.
We are withdrawing for reasons that we will explain later on, we did things the right way, but things changed at the last moment. Our paths will divide in June.”
The centre-back has notched up just over 100 appearances for I Biancocelesti since moving from Dutch side Feyenoord in 2014, but with his contract expiring on 30/06/2018, he can now enter into discussions with new clubs over a potential move.
Jürgen Klopp has been a long-term admirer of de Vrij, and was rumoured to be plotting a swoop for him last summer when it seemed a transfer for compatriot Virgil van Dijk wasn’t possible.
Despite the eventual signing of van Dijk from Southampton, the Reds will unquestionably still be looking to bolster their defensive options, and de Vrij would certainly be an improvement on both Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip.
Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was a big fan of the centre-back throughout his tenure as Holland manager, and relied heavily on him during the 2014 World Cup.
De Vrij moved to Lazio after impressing in Brazil and has developed steadily during his three-and-a-half year spell in Rome.
He isn’t the most physically intimidating player, but the Dutchman possesses an excellent footballing brain and reads the game superbly. He’s also a first-rate tackler and acquires a widespread range of passing that would certainly suit Jürgen Klopp’s style.
More notably, he is considered adaptable and a sharp learner, meaning he should be able to make the switch to Premier League comfortably. His transition would be smoothened by the fact he would be partnering his national team colleague, Virgil van Dijk, at the heart of the Reds defence.
Since van Dijk’s coming the defensive issues at Anfield have cleared but by no means have they been solved completely; adding a tactically disciplined centre-back partner into the mix such as de Vrij would certainly steady the ship and increase the Reds chances of winning silverware next season.
Another pulling factor that could aid Liverpool’s chances of signing the Dutchman is his relationship with Gini Wijnaldum. The pair played at Feyenoord together for two seasons and remained friends after Wijnaldum moved to PSV in 2011.
However, overlooking the prospective snags of signing de Vrij would be foolish, as there is one key concern.
The centre-back enjoys a strong hard tackle and is no stranger to the treatment room; a typical crunching challenge was the root of a knee injury that required surgery and ruled him out for the majority of Lazio’s 2015/16 campaign.
Last season he also missed several matches after suffering little niggly injuries, including a metatarsal fracture, an abductor tear and muscle complications.
Despite this de Vrij played in 27 of Lazio’s 38 Serie A games, and has gone through the majority of the current campaign unscathed and injury-free.
Even with this downside, all the right signs are there to suggest that Liverpool should seriously be looking to beat the likes of Inter Milan and Arsenal to his signature this summer.
He suits the style of play favoured by Jürgen Klopp and already has friends at the club in Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum. He is arguably one of the best defenders in Europe and the matter of him costing absolutely nothing is just another bonus.
The Dutchman will now be looking to make that next level move and there is possibly no club or manager better suited to him at this point in his career than Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp.