Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool for £75million in 2018 and when we look back in 10 years’ time, Chelsea and Manchester United are going to regret not signing him.
The Reds very nearly missed out on signing the incredible centre-half and were forced to apologise in 2017 for ‘tapping him up’ as Liverpool approached the Dutch defender without Southampton’s permission.
However, six months later, Liverpool signed the 6ft4 colossus for a world record fee paid for a defender, paying Southampton £75million which has somehow turned out to be a massive bargain.
Liverpool went from an exciting counter-attacking side capable only of challenging for top four to one of the best teams the Premier League has ever seen and the only side capable of dethroning Manchester City.
Van Dijk made the biggest impact that a signing has ever made at Liverpool and he’s arguably the best January signing of all time.
The summer that the club was forced to apologise to Southampton was a huge opportunity for Chelsea and Manchester United to poach the Dutchman and allowing Liverpool to sign him will go down as one of the biggest regrets both clubs have looking back in a decade’s time.
United went on to later sign Harry Maguire for £80m – £5million more than Liverpool paid for van Dijk which is the perfect example the difference between the two clubs’ efficiency in the transfer market.
He already has winners’ medals in the Champions League, the Premier League, the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup and there’s no telling what he’ll win in the remainder of his time at Anfield.
He’s the full package. Not only is he one of the most aerially dominant centre-halves I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, he’s a better passer than most midfielders in England and scores goals with ease as well.
The only thing he’s missing that the likes of Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos has is longevity.
He hasn’t been at the top for as long as the Spaniard, Chelsea’s John Terry or Rio Ferdinand from Manchester United and that may be the only argument against him when the inevitable talk of the greatest ever centre-back comes around.
Already 29, van Dijk has only been at the top since he was 26 and missed an entire year of football due to an avoidable anterior cruciate ligament injury but that shouldn’t matter.
I’ve never seen a centre-back make defending top players look so easy that could also play 60-yard raking passes with the kind of ease that Toni Kroos or Steven Gerrard could manage.
Liverpool will be eyeing a return to the top of the Premier League table next season after their first title defence in three decades was decimated by injuries to key personnel.
In fact, the eight players that played at centre-back for Liverpool this season all suffered at least one injury each doing so.
Any improvement on that shocking luck will surely see the Reds bounce back in a big way.