What do we want? A decent centre back. When do we want it? Last summer.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has given the clubs fans a late Christmas present this week when they announced the signing of Dutch central defender Virgil Van Dijk for a world record fee from Southampton.
Liverpool’s defence away from home has been as leaky as the titanic so far this season with the team conceding 21 goals while at home they have only conceded the 3 goals, the best home record in the Premier League.
As we all know the problem with the defence is one fans have bickered and argued about since Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher left the club. Different players have been scapegoated by fans for poor performances and fans have cried out for an established leader in the centre back role who is not Dejan Lovren.
Last summer Liverpool were linked heavily with Van Dijk and we all know that ended up. I for one was highly critical of Jürgen Klopp when on the 1st September Lovren and Joël Matip were still Liverpool’s first choice pairing at centre back. I was annoyed that it appeared that Klopp had no back up plan and his stubbornness to look at anyone other than Van Dijk would cost Liverpool points yet again this season.
Klopp clearly knows what he wants and he’s willing to play the long game in order to get what he wants. This is something Liverpool fans have not seen from a manager in a long time. Under previous manager if the first target was missed, then the club would have signed a lesser player and this would drive fans in to a frenzy. This new approach is a breath of fresh air and is something I hope Klopp continues during his time at the club.
I am hoping that Van Dijk can finally bring a bit of steel to a weak defensive line. Liverpool currently lack leaders on the pitch and with Van Dijk in the team I am hoping that this changes. Liverpool need a spine of players who can absorb the pressure opposition teams will throw at them and keep cool when the team has its back to the wall.
With Van Dijk at the back I am hoping Liverpool’s leaky defence will slowly dry up.
Van Dijk is a leader both on and off the pitch.
This season in the 12 games he has played for Southampton in the Premier League he has created 3 chances, he averages per game 10 defensive actions, wins on average 71% of his duels and has an average pass accuracy of 86%.
In comparison Lovren has played 15 times for Liverpool in the Premier League, creating 2 chances, scoring 1 goal, has won 56% of his average duels, averages per game 7 defensive actions, and has a pass accuracy of 88%.
Matip’s stats read a small bit better than Lovren’s. he has created the same amount of chances as his defensive partner, scored the same amount of goals as Lovren. The only stat that Matip beats both Lovren and Van Dijk in is the pass accuracy stat.
The addition of Van Dijk to the Liverpool team in my opinion will have a knock on effect not only in team performances but also when it comes to other transfer targets.
The much criticised FSG have shown that they are willing to back Klopp in the transfer market and the usual big spenders of Manchester and London will have this in the back of their minds when going for targets Liverpool are also rumoured to be interested in.
FSG have shown they will not be bullied in to selling top stars or bullied out of signing a player for an extraordinary amount of money.
Hopefully the signing of Van Dijk is a sign of things to come for Liverpool and we as fans can finally look forward to a period of success like what we had under Rafa Bentiez.
So let’s forget the price tag, get behind the player and make him welcome at Anfield. Most of all when he makes a mistake let’s try and not nail him to the cross.