Liverpool’s six month pursuit of Virgil Van Dijk finally ended on Wednesday night. The saga possibly highlights the inflation in the market better than any other deal in 2017. A fee of £50m was originally mooted before the Dutchman’s value crept up consistently. £55m, £60m, £65m and upwards with £75m being the final figure.
The Deal makes Virgil the most expensive defender of all time and the 8th most expensive footballer of all time. It’s prompted the usual social media banter from supporters of rival clubs. The same people who have made it their priority to slaughter Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s defence for the last five months immediately after every game.
You're doing something right when everyone is talking about your new centre back. The Reds acting to solve problem position but some lad in Milton Keynes with the handle FalseNinePogbakaku can't believe he cost 75m. Loving it. Better the £ on the pitch than in a billionaires bank
— Craig Hannan (@C_Hannan7) December 28, 2017
Jurgen Klopp won’t care about those tweets, nor will Van Dijk. Football is far more complex and simply better than social media accounts from these type of lads who are Billy Big Bollocks behind a keyboard and screen. They laugh at a decision made by a group of people who know far more about football and winning than 99.9% of the population.
The truth is Liverpool had to go after Van Dijk. For years Liverpool have remained to conservative in the transfer market. As a Liverpool fan I never want to see us become a Manchester City or PSG. It would go against what the club stands for. However, up until six months ago Liverpool’s record purchase was Andy Carroll at £35m.
For Liverpool Football Club that shows that between 2011 and 2017 there were serious mistakes made in the transfer market. Despite receiving over £70m for Luis Suarez in 2014 and £50m for Raheem Sterling the following year, Andy Carroll somehow held onto his record. There’s nothing wrong with Andy Carroll but it’s important to remember that he didn’t play for six weeks following his signing due to an incident in which he fell off a bar stool in a casino. That’s the player that Liverpool broke their transfer record for.
It goes without saying, the defensive improvement which Van Dijk will bring to Liverpool is the biggest reason which justifies the price tag. Not only will he be a stronghold in the back line but also a leader among the back four. A back four which has talked to each other about 3 times in the last 2 years.
However, there are more reasons why FSG and Jurgen Klopp were right to go after their man.
For years there’s been scepticism around FSG, Liverpool’s Boston based owners. They straddle the blurred line in between “doing alright” and “not caring about the club”. The ticket pricing saga of 2016 and their lack of public appearances in Liverpool contrasts the extension of the new main stand. Local public schemes and increased involvement of the UK based hierarchy have also increased popularity among many. However the Liverpool faithful are still very much split on the Americans, possibly scarred by previous experiences of owners from across the pond.
The signing of Van Dijk is a statement from FSG. For the first time in their 7 year tenure at the club they’ve looked at an issue in the side and have said it must be resolved, whatever the cost. It’s not buying for buying sake. It does however represent intent. On Saturday there was a noticeably positive atmosphere inside Anfield, with Van Dijk present in the Main Stand. Liverpool fans will be bouncing into Turf Moor today, knowing they’ve got their man. Liverpool players will be bouncing into Turf Moor today, knowing they’ve got a seriously good centre back joining their squad.
If you start negotiating a deal for Virgil Van Dijk at 10:05:23am on 1st July 2017 it’ll finally be completed at exactly midnight on 1st January 2018.
Start your new year off right.
— Ben Kelly (@bkelly776) December 27, 2017
For the first time in recent memory, Liverpool as a club don’t seem to be in jeopardy. For the last ten years, they’ve been in a position where if their best player was to leave it would reset them as a mediocre “project club”, hovering around sixth/seventh position.
If (most likely when) Philippe Coutinho leaves the club next summer it won’t leave Liverpool with a rebuilding project. A side with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, Roberto Firmino surrounded by an experienced bunch of squad players and young talents would be a healthy proposition going into next season.
This might be the last time FSG spend big on a player at Liverpool. Liverpool as a club is now an attractive prospect for footballers. With the attacking talent, Champions League football and most all the lure of Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool will now have the solidity to bring in a player here and there when needed. However there is a feeling around the club that the current crop of players will be the core of the side for the next 2 to 3 seasons.
Van Dijk as a signing is an ambitious move that was needed in Merseyside. It’s now up to Jurgen Klopp to improve this side’s stability and game management. Say what you like about the price tag, it’s rare Liverpool spend big and it probably won’t happen again too soon. Liverpool now have the tools. The pressure is on to craft the dream.
Happy New Year, all the best.