Even before the opening of the January transfer window, the footballing world was astonished by the announcement of the arrival of Virgil Van Dijk (we shall use the abbreviation VVD from now on) to Liverpool for 75 million pounds. The shock was mainly due to the price, though we should have expected such price since the market effectively have gone bonkers since the Neymar deal. Here we discuss the domino effect this particular transfer can have :
1. Klopp had inherited a team of suspect defence from Brandon Rodgers. The attack was also blunt as Suarez and Sterling left and Sturridge was always injured since their ill fated second finish campaign. Klopp have made a lot of effort to instill his system in the side and have developed a truly frightening attack comprising of the likes of Salah, Mane, Firmino and Lallana. The midfield has also developed due to the creativity of Coutinho and the relative stability of Can and Henderson, though they lack a true no 8 (regarding this no 8 player we shall discuss below). It is the defence which remains the cause of anguish for Liverpool fans and Klopp himself have done little to solve the issue. Now with VDV at helm, this is the first purchase of a truly high class defender under Klopp which can pave the way for further high class defensive purchases for Liverpool. Their attack is set, and with Keita coming next season, they have stabilised their midfield, now Klopp has concentrated on defence. We can expect him to truly shore up Liverpool defence with further purchases and they can be a major European as well as PL contender in no time.
2. Klopp always requires a play instigator for his system, a player who will sit out from his gegenpressing scheme, act as the safety net for any hiccup in his pressing system, read the game and initiate attacks through either centre and wings. This is a major building block of his system. It’s better that this instigator be a defender, since you need all your midfielders in the gegenpressing scheme to either press or attack. Nuri Sachin, the silky playmaker from Dortmund, initially acted as this player. But Dortmund started performing best when Klopp found the perfect player for this role, Matt Hummers. Hummels has the perfect defensive qualities required for a CB, and yet he can read the play and have the passing ability which at times can be compared to the likes of Xabi Alonso and Pirlo . With Hummels as the playmaker and the safety net and Gundogan as the no 8 providing midfield solidarity and energy to link the gegenpressing to attack respectively , Klopp won back to back Bundesliga and reached the UCL final to be narrowly pipped to the title by Bayern. Now with purchase of Naby Keita, Liverpool is aiming for that no 8 role provided typically by Gundogan in that system. Add VDV to the system and we can see Klopp’s system slowly becoming complete and full proof. Hummels is unavailable, so are Pique, Koulibaly and Bonucci, who are perfect players for the system. That’s why it was VDV or nobody else for Klopp, since VDV is the only player currently in EPL suitable for this role. Stones and Christensen are also suitable, but they need more development and are not in their prime unlike VVD. Beware footballing world, Liverpool will be a force to be reckoned with. Klopp still has unfinished business in UCL and he is yet to win EPL, he seems to be a man on mission.
3. Liverpool perhaps paid a bit higher for VVD, even in this distorted market, but if he plays the way he is expected to, those extra 10-15 million will look like pocket change. Also they became more desperate since City was sniffing around VVD. If he went to City under Pep, who already are dominating EPL, then it would have been game over for everyone. Also VVD’s purchase has now paved the way for rise in price of the defenders as well as breaking the transfer norm of Winter window.Now we shall start witnessing records broken in January transfer window, already VVD is the most priced defender ever. Plus this purchase will have by now, increased prices of other coveted defenders like De Ligt, Upamecano etc by tens of millions for sure.
How much successful this transfer will be, only time will tell. But it will and already have a major impact on the EPL as well as footballing world, no doubt about that.