Virgil Van Dijk might just fix Liverpool.
Perhaps that’s what you’d expect from a $100 million man, but the 26-year-old center back is more than the simplicity of a massive buy.
[ MORE: VVD to the Reds ]
Van Dijk is the prototype to fix what ails Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds.
Liverpool’s defensive record has been much better of late, with the 3-3 draw versus Arsenal their first time allowing multiple goals in league play since Oct. 22 (The Reds went on to batter Swans 5-0 on Boxing Day).
And perhaps the knowledge that “VVD” was headed for Anfield is what kept Klopp’s composure in the face of that rough performance. Klopp is a man who likes to lean on his first choice center backs, and he hasn’t had a lot to like beyond Joel Matip (who’s battled injuries).
[ MORE: Matip with JPW ]
When Borussia Dortmund was functioning at its highest under Klopp, he was able to “set it and forget it” with Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels. Should Van Dijk quickly adapt to Anfield, there’s little question he has the capability to be as impactful on a set-up as Hummels.
Now Liverpool’s work isn’t done, and the club faces an interesting proposition: Van Dijk will be at his absolute best with improved center mids in front of him. Witness how the Dutchman found his next level when Oriol Romeu found his at Southampton, almost symbiotic.
This would be quickly amended should Liverpool convince RB Leipzig to let Naby Keita leave six months early to revolutionize the Reds’ midfield. Jordan Henderson has struggled for fitness and form, and could improve mightily with better center backs or a partner in the midfield. Emre Can, unlikely to stay beyond this season, also fits this in a micro sense.
Klopp will want to find an upgrade from Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius at goalkeeper at some point, and has to navigate the Philippe Coutinho situation in January, but the Reds can make a push higher into the Top Four with Keita or another improvement in front of Van Dijk.