The lack of a top-quality central defender has been the single biggest factor that has let Liverpool down in the Premier League title race this season. Any team that concedes more than a goal per game on an average is unlikely to win the league title. It is not a surprise that Chelsea and Tottenham, clubs that possess the best defensive record in the division, lead the table. In order to sort out the defensive issues, manager Jurgen Klopp has reportedly made it a top priority to sign a central defender in the coming transfer window. Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk is now the top transfer target and the club are ready to pay even £50 million for his signature.
Since joining from Celtic in 2015, Virgil van Dijk has been a revelation in the Premier League and his performances have not gone unnoticed. He has been a top transfer target for many clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City. Yet, Liverpool believe that they will have the obvious advantage in the race due to the ability to offer regular first-team football. Liverpool have also signed numerous Southampton players in the last couple of years. Furthermore, the Merseyside outfit are set to finish in the top four making it easier to convince top players to join the club.
Virgil van Dijk is expected to go straight into the first-team along with Joel Matip/Dejan Lovren. He will plug the hole in the defence that has conceded 40 goals in just 32 league matches this season.
Klopp was once again non-committal when asked about the future of Mamadou Sakho, who has been in excellent form since moving to Crystal Palace on a loan deal in January. The French defender has been sorely missed in the first half of the campaign. It is not a surprise that Crystal Palace have managed five wins in their last seven league matches, as they have been solid at the back.
“I see a lot of Premier League games so I see Crystal Palace too and I see how he is playing there and all this stuff,” Klopp said.
“But there is nothing to say in this moment because you can imagine like all the plans we have for next season, we speak about behind closed doors. In the moment when we have to say something, we will say something.”
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Signing the Southampton defender may bring an end to Sakho’s time at Anfield, as the club may not have space for five central defenders. Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are likely to be the backup options next season with Virgil van Dijk paired alongside Matip.
Virgil van Dijk has featured in 21 league games this season and he has not played since January after suffering a knee injury. It has brought a premature end to his excellent campaign. Liverpool will not be too concerned with this injury, as Virgil van Dijk has not been an injury prone player in the past.