It’s been one year since Liverpool took the step it needed to become an elite team.
One year ago today, Liverpool announced that it had reached an agreement to sign Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton, with the transfer worth a reported $94.5 million completed on January 1, 2018. While Mohamed Salah went on to deservedly win many individual awards for his incredible goalscoring season, perhaps no one was more valuable to their team than Van Dijk has been to Liverpool.
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Since Van Dijk joined the Reds, their defense has become one of the strongest in all of Europe. Of course, the addition of Alisson Becker has helped as well but Van Dijk has been the leader in the back line, helping the rest of the defense play even better. Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold have all seen their performances improve since Van Dijk joined the club.
In the six months prior to Van Dijk joining, Liverpool recorded 17 wins, 11 draws and three defeats, with 33 goals allowed. From January 5, Van Dijk’s debut and on, Liverpool allowed just 21 goals in matches the Dutchman played in, with six of those from Roma alone.
This season alone, Liverpool has by far the best defense in the league, having allowed just seven Premier League goals. Van Dijk combines incredible strength, pace and anticipation to go with a commanding presence, which lifts all the other players around him. Liverpool has transformed into a defensive stalwart after scoring 84 goals in 2017-2018. It’s a recipe for success, and it’s why they’re leading the table with 51 points as we head into the new year.