Friday 19 July 2019

Klopp breaks world record to secure Van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk could play his first game for Liverpool against Everton in the FA Cup. Photo: Getty Images
Virgil van Dijk could play his first game for Liverpool against Everton in the FA Cup. Photo: Getty Images

Jeremy Wilson

The January transfer window will open on Monday to Liverpool's extraordinary world record £75 million signing of Holland centre-back Virgil van Dijk from Southampton.

A fee was agreed yesterday for Van Dijk that shatters Liverpool's previous club-record transfer and is also easily the biggest in football history for a defender.

The two clubs were in secret negotiations over Christmas following the acrimonious breakdown of a potential deal last summer and Van Dijk yesterday also completed a medical and agreed personal terms on a contract worth £180,000 a week.

Liverpool and Southampton brought forward their announcement of what is a massive coup for manager Jurgen Klopp after news of the deal was broken yesterday.

Virgil Van Dijk holdsup a Liverpool FC shirt in a screen grab taken from his Instagram account. Liverpool have signed the Dutch player for a reported £75 million. Photo: virgilvandijk/Instagram/PA
Virgil Van Dijk holdsup a Liverpool FC shirt in a screen grab taken from his Instagram account. Liverpool have signed the Dutch player for a reported £75 million. Photo: virgilvandijk/Instagram/PA

A photograph of Van Dijk posing with a replica Liverpool kit in front of his Christmas tree was then posted on the Liverpool website alongside confirmation he will wear the No 4 shirt.

With Liverpool unable to register Van Dijk in time for the Premier League match against Burnley next Monday, his debut could be the Merseyside derby against Everton in the FA Cup third round.

Manchester City and Chelsea were both extremely interested in Van Dijk and had made inquiries at different stages in the past six months, but the 26-year-old's preference was always Liverpool after being personally attracted by the chance to work under Klopp.


"Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool player," said Van Dijk. "Today is a proud day for me and my family as I join one of the biggest clubs in world football. I can't wait to pull on the famous red shirt for the first time in front of the Kop and will give everything I have to try to help this great club achieve something special."

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher last night hailed the signing, saying Van Dijk was "better in the air than me, quicker than me and more composed".

Van Dijk's arrival follows major summer deals by Liverpool for Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and an agreement to pay the £48m release clause for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita.

Barcelona, though, are also now expected to renew their interest in Philippe Coutinho after three bids were rejected last summer, peaking at £118.7m.

Liverpool regard the two situations as unconnected and had wanted Van Dijk, who was Klopp's first-choice transfer target, before Barcelona moved for Coutinho.

Liverpool did not make a formal offer to Southampton last summer but were ready to pay around £60m after it became clear in June that Van Dijk wanted to join them.

Southampton were furious at the apparent leak of information and their complaint to the Premier League over a suspected illegal approach prompted an apology from Liverpool and agreement not to pursue the deal.

Liverpool have since handled an embarrassing situation adeptly by not antagonising Southampton with any bid later in the summer and then discreetly opening negotiations ahead of the January window. Premier League leaders Manchester City were expected to make an initial £60m bid and Chelsea also had an offer turned down last summer but the situation moved to a rapid conclusion over the past 48 hours.

Southampton's decision to finally sell Van Dijk was influenced by their own increasingly worrying predicament. Van Dijk missed the start of the season after handing in a transfer request amid a public falling-out with Southampton over their attempt to discipline him. Van Dijk was adamant he had not missed training but the club's new manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, felt that he was not fully focused and he did not play for the first team until the middle of September.


His form was then mixed and he was dropped from recent Premier League games against Chelsea, Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur. Although Van Dijk is adamant that he remained fully professional, there was a strong feeling at Southampton that his presence was affecting team spirit.

Liverpool have agreed to pay £70m up front, with Celtic also benefiting from a 10pc sell-on clause on a deal that then rises to £75m. The structure and timing of the transfer reflects Southampton's desire to make major signings of their own and they are committed to reinvesting the entire fee.

They hope to add an attacking player next week and are also lining up other deals. Southampton have won one of their past 11 games and are conscious that Pellegrino has had the Van Dijk situation hanging over him. The club hope selling Van Dijk will help Pellegrino and the squad make a fresh start, but there are clear concerns with the club just two points above the relegation zone.

The £75m Van Dijk fee is also level with Romelu Lukaku as the second most expensive transfer in Premier League history, behind only Manchester United's £90m purchase of Paul Pogba.(© Daily Telegraph, London)


Red-letter days for Saints

Virgil van Dijk’s £75million (€84m) move from Southampton to Liverpool is the sixth transfer between the clubs in the last three and a half years.


Rickie Lambert (£4m, June 2014)

The big striker never suited Brendan Rodgers’s system. While his story of returning to a club which released him as a youngster was heart-warming, only three goals in 36 matches underlined the mistake. Sold to West Brom in 2015 for £3m, he has recently retired.


Adam Lallana (£25m, July 2014)

The England international’s acrimonious departure from Saints did not help his settling-in process and an injury in pre-season delayed his debut. But under Jurgen Klopp he has shown the form that has made him one of the stand-out midfielders in the Premier League. His current campaign has been blighted by injury, however.


Dejan Lovren (£20m, July 2014)

The centre-back was brought in to provide some leadership following the retirement of stalwart Jamie Carragher but the Croatia international initially struggled with the responsibility. His form at the start was patchy, but, although a gaffe never seems far away, he has improved markedly.


Nathaniel Clyne (£12.5m, July 2015)

Arrived as first-choice right-back and produced consistent performances in his maiden season which took him into the England squad for Euro 2016. Backed that up last season but suffered a back injury in the summer and has yet to play this time around.


Sadio Mane (£34m, June 2016)

The Senegal international proved to be money spent well as he enjoyed a fine start to life at Anfield, so much so that his departure to the African Cup of Nations was blamed for Liverpool’s January blip. He ended the campaign with 13 league goals in 27 appearances and has followed that up this season by becoming one of the feared ‘Fab Four’.

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