Jamie Redknapp says that Virgil van Dijk’s return to the Liverpool starting XI after an ACL rupture last year “is like a new signing” for the Reds.
It’s safe to safe that Liverpool’s 2021 summer transfer window was a disappointment.
Jurgen Klopp’s only addition to the side was Ibrahima Konate but he looks set to play a squad role after Joel Matip’s sensational pre-season form.
Van Dijk spent almost all of last season on the sidelines thanks to a mindless challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but his return is a major boost for Liverpool.
Already this season it has made Jurgen Klopp’s side more resilient and less susceptible to counter-attacks which is important given how the German likes his team to press high up the pitch.
Jamie Redknapp thinks that having van Dijk back is like making a major new signing.
Speaking to BetVictor, he said: “I think United have strengthened up. Varane is a great signing for them and they’ve made one or two good signings so they’ll be stronger again this year.
“I think it’s a very open Premier League this year. I think Chelsea look very strong and Lukaku is a fantastic signing as he gives them so much more. He gives them what they missed last year: a focal point to the team, goals, and strength. He’s got everything and can make a difference to Chelsea.
“Liverpool really haven’t done an awful lot of business but they’ve got Van Dijk fit who is like a new signing so I think it’s a wide open Premier League this year. I think there’s four teams that could win it and any one of them wouldn’t surprise me.”
Liverpool paid £75million (€87m) for van Dijk in 2018 and if he can have the same effect on the Reds’ defence that he did back then, there is a good chance Klopp’s side can be successful this season.
That said, after a poor transfer window in which all of Liverpool’s rivals strengthened significantly, van Dijk returning might not be enough to make up the difference in the Premier League title race.
Roberto Firmino’s injury underlines Liverpool’s lack of attacking depth and if another one of Jurgen Klopp’s first-choice forwards suffers an injury, it could derail the season before it even gets underway.
The Reds are prisoners of fortune. If they can avoid injury, they are almost certain to do something special but if the injuries pile up as they inevitably do with Premier League teams, it’s going to be disastrous.
That’s even before you factor in the handful of games Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are scheduled to miss in January.