Virgil Van Dijk has had an interesting summer already.
For all intents and purposes, he looked assured of a move to Liverpool only for it ultimately to be scuppered by allegations of having been ‘tapped’ up. The one aspect of that particular saga to not fade into oblivion is the consensus that he is worth spending money on. A lot of money.
The idea of shelling out tens of millions for defenders is a relatively new phenomenon, showing no signs of abating. Manchester City saw fit to spend £42m Eliaquim Mangala in 2014, before going on to part with £47.5m to acquire the services of John Stones last August. Chelsea’s fascination with Davis Luiz has seen millions flow also, as they took in £50m when he departed for PSG only to fork out £30m to re-acquire his services. And Virgil Van Dijk appears to be their latest target.
As reported by Gianluca Di Marzio, Chelsea are willing to part ways with £60m to sign the Dutch defender and is thought to be Conte’s first choice when it comes to supplementing his defensive options. The Blues made hay deploying a back 3 last season and the addition of Van Dijk would add much needed defensive cover to their side while also opening the possibility of more formation variations.
As has been previously reported by the BBC, Chelsea are also thought to be in the hunt to sign Alex Sandro from Juventus and have even been said to have already submitted a bid. Indeed, Juventus’ CEO Giuseppe Marotta was quoted as saying “If a player decides to leave… then at the end of the day he has to go”, which clearly suggests a belief that the Brazilian is intent on leaving Turin, presumably for London.
The arrival of both Sandro and Van Dijk would complement each other nicely at Chelsea. The additional cover Sandro would provide in the wing-back role, or as part of a back 3, teamed with Van Dijk solidity as a centre-half would provide the club with ample options in deploying either a back 3 or 4. Such tactical suppleness will no doubt be of tremendous use to the Premier League champions next season as they seek to mount successful campaigns in both the Premier League and the Champions League.
However, should both targets depart for Chelsea, it would also say much about Liverpool.
Chelsea have made no secret of the fact that defensive cover is a priority for them this summer and have quickly moved into poll position to sign two of Europe’s hottest properties. Liverpool repeatedly demonstrated last season that they too are in dire need of additional defenders but appear to have languished in their ambitions as soon as the transfer window began.
Lest we forget, Liverpool too will be competing in Europe’s foremost competition next season in addition to England’s domestic league and defensive fortifications are easily as necessary on Merseyside as they are by Conte’s charges.
How Liverpool plug the weaknesses in their defence this Summer will say much about their ambitions for next season. Losing significant ground to Chelsea so soon, however, is hardly promising.
On this week’s Mixer Irish Football Podcast we spoke to Finn Harps striker Danny Morrissey, and looked at the League of Ireland sides’ Champions and Europa League draws.