Football

Pundits argue that Liverpool new signing van Dijk is worth every penny

Some believe Liverpool's $135m-signing of Saints defender is money well-spent, others feel he is overpriced

WORTH EVERY PENNY

The courtship lasted 10 months, went on a treacherous path and nearly ended in acrimonious fashion but, finally, there were smiles all round at Anfield.

Liverpool have landed Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk for a reported fee of £75 million (S$135m) yesterday morning (Singapore time), making him the world's most expensive defender.

The 26-year-old Holland international will be reportedly paid £180,000 a week when he makes the move from Merseyside next Monday.

But it's money well spent, according to former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who has long criticised Juergen Klopp's side for lacking the defensive nous to challenge the likes of leaders Manchester City.

He believes fans must look past the astronomical transfer fee and focus on what the Reds could be potentially getting from their money.

He told Sky Sports: "People will look at the transfer fee. It's normally strikers going for that type of figure.

"But, as with any transfer fee, if he performs well and does his job, it will be worth it.

"Rio Ferdinand went to Manchester United for just over £30m, but he repaid that. He was Manchester United's top centre back, won trophies and was there for 10 years.

"That's what van Dijk has to do; take Liverpool to trophies and be their main, No. 1 centre back for the next decade or so."

Carragher's fellow Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, a former United fullback, feels the Reds need to spend that sort of money to solve their defensive problems.

He said: "It sounds like a fantastic deal for Southampton but, if Liverpool can stop their creaking in big matches when put under pressure, then it will be a good deal for Liverpool as well.

"Because people will forget about the money that has been spent in a year or two if they can win trophies and get the defence right."

The previous world-record transfer for a defender was the £54m Man City paid Tottenham Hotspur for England right back Kyle Walker in the close season, reported AFP.

  • £200.6M (S$361M)

    NEYMAR

    (Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017)

    £96.8M

    OUSMANE DEMBELE

    (Borussia Dortmund to Barca in 2017)

    £89M

    PAUL POGBA

    (Juventus to Manchester United in 2016)

    £85.3M

    GARETH BALE

    (Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013)

    £80M

    CRISTIANO RONALDO

    (Man United to Real in 2009)

    £75.3M

    GONZALO HIGUAIN

    (Napoli to Juventus in 2016)

    £75M

    ROMELU LUKAKU

    (Everton to Man United in 2017)

    VIRGIL VAN DIJK

    (Southampton to Liverpool in 2018)

    £65M

    LUIS SUAREZ

    (Liverpool to Barca in 2014)

    £63M

    JAMES RODRIGUEZ

    (AS Monaco to Real in 2014)

Barcelona legend Carles Puyol said that there is no escaping paying top dollar for the top stars.

Speaking at the Dubai International Sports Conference, he said: "Yes, the players deserve this amount of money, this is how the market is, this is how demand is. The amounts are crazy, but this is the market. And I don't think this will stop."

$299m Liverpool have spent a total of £166.5 million (S$299.3m) on six Southampton players since the summer of 2014. Holland centre back Virgil van Dijk is the latest to follow Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Sadio Mane to Anfield.

Former Celtic scout Neil McGuinness, who spotted van Dijk at Groningen and took him to Scotland in 2013, added that the Reds have got themselves one of the best centre backs in the world.

He said: "The opportunities are all opening up for him now and, if he can maintain his work-rate and hunger, he has a huge scope to be remembered as a top player.

"He is among the top-10 centre backs in the world - and I honestly believe he can go on to be a great at Liverpool."

Klopp yesterday also reminded everyone that the club have no control over market forces, which he said determined the player's huge price tag.

He told Sky Sports: "We don't make the prices, the market does. Liverpool supporters should forget about the price.

"We talk only about the player and what he can bring in; the quality, the mentality, the character. That is why we are really happy about it."

WASTE OF MONEY

While some are viewing the £75 million (S$135m) signing of Virgil van Dijk as a coup for Liverpool, others have slammed the Reds for being desperate.

England legend and Southampton old boy Alan Shearer was one of the loudest critics when the move was announced yesterday morning, believing that the Dutchman is not worth that kind of money.

The former striker's move from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United for £15m was a world-record transfer back in 1996. He told BBC Radio 5 live: "Southampton have got one hell of a deal. Van Dijk is a good player, yes, but for £75m? No, he's not worth it at all.

"Southampton could have named any price they wanted. They knew Liverpool were desperate for a centre half. Everyone is aware they are desperate - we have seen them come up short several times this season.

"When Liverpool try and sign a goalkeeper - which they also desperately need - they will find the same thing.

"We've been saying it for a number of years now - that transfer fees have gone through the roof - and this one has taken it to another level."

It's madness that the English Premier League could do without, added Stan Collymore, who himself signed for Liverpool in 1995 for an English record fee of £8.5m.

The former striker tweeted: "£75m. Too much money burning too many big holes in too many pockets. Even the biggest clubs will be pricing themselves out of the market soon.

"Absolute madness."

After van Dijk's attempted move to Merseyside collapsed during the summer, the 26-year-old defender spent the first half of this season sulking and his performance levels dipped.

He was also dropped for Southampton's recent games against Chelsea, Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur.

Ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown questioned the player's attitude, telling the Daily Mail: "Liverpool are paying a premium for van Dijk because of the flashes we saw last season.

"He did not play for the first month of the season and has seemed to be sulking at not being allowed to leave Southampton. How strong is he mentally?"

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