Yesterday Virgil van Dijk signed for Liverpool from Southampton, for a record fee for a center back of £75m. Van Dijk is now in the top 10 most expensive signings of all time.
Liverpool will be hoping that Van Dijk can tidy up their leaky defense. Currently, they have conceded the joint-most goals out of the “top 6”.
Mediocre defense in recent years
Their defense has been their main problem for multiple years now. The last time Liverpool have conceded less than 40 goals in the Premier League was in the 2009/10 season when they conceded 35.
Even when they were so close to winning the league title back in 2014, it was their defense that let them down. They conceded 50 goals, while eventual title winners Manchester City only conceded 37.
Sami Hyypiä and Jamie Carragher were the last viable and consistent partnership that the Merseyside club had. The club will be hoping that Joël Matip and Virgil van Dijk will become the next great partnership at Anfield.
The question at hand is can Liverpool challenge for the title this season? The simple answer is no. Man City are running away with the league, and even Liverpool with the addition of van Dijk will not be able to stop the Citizens.
However, next season I can see Liverpool and Manchester City the two favorites as of right now. Liverpool have an arranged transfer for Leipzig midfielder Naby Keïta, who is already one of the best box to box midfielders in Europe.
The addition of Keïta and van Dijk will sure up almost all of their weaknesses. The only area they will need to strengthen is their goalkeeper. The Reds could put in some cheeky bids for Jan Oblak, Alban Lafont, Gerónimo Rulli, or Jack Butland in June or early July.
They will also need to keep Coutinho, Mané, Salah, and Firmino this January and summer. Liverpool could potentially lineup with Butland in goal, Matip and van Dijk in defense, Robertson and Clyne in the full backs position, Henderson, Keïta, and Coutinho in the midfield, and a front three of Salah, Mané, and Firmino.
This potential starting 11 would be up there with City’s, in terms of best squads in the Premier League. They would only need to upgrade their bench next summer along with a keeper.
Top four guaranteed?
With the addition of van Dijk and the consistent form of Liverpool’s attack, the Reds will be one of the favorites to finish inside the top four.
Arsenal and Tottenham will be on the outskirts, as Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City look to be guaranteed top four clubs this season.
Van Dijk is now the most expensive defender of all time, the most expensive Liverpool player, and the most expensive January signing. They easily could have found a cheaper solution to van Dijk, like his international teammate Stefan De Vrij.
However, if van Dijk can help Liverpool to a League title, success in the Champions League, or at least an F.A. Cup, then he won’t be remembered for his price tag, but instead apart of that special Liverpool side that broke Liverpool’s deadlock of winning a major trophy.