Where Next for Virgil van Dijk?
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on November 30, 2016
Southampton seem set to continue their conveyor belt of talent production with the imminent sale of Virgil van Dijk. Despite the Saints purchasing the Dutch defender from Celtic in 2015, there is no doubt the club have aided his progression and development tenfold since his arrival.
One imperious performance after the next has led van Dijk to acquire many admirers from across Europe with numerous elite clubs competing for his signature. Among them, are 4 of the Premier League’s ‘top 6’ sides, but which would suit his 6ft 4 frame, commanding presence and dominant playing style the best?
The Merseyside outfit have used Southampton as somewhat of a feeder club in recent years and will again be looking to dip into their resources to strengthen their own ranks. With questions raised about whether Jürgen Klopp’s defence is up to a title challenge, adding van Dijk makes perfect sense.
The Dutchman has the ability to forge a lethal partnership with Joel Matip at the heart of the Reds back-line and would address the managers’ self-confessed problem of a lack of height. The defender is also composed on the ball giving him another dimension to his game when playing in a side that tends to dominate possession.
Problems seem to have become a centric part of the United set-up in the post-Ferguson era but after a less than impressive start, performances are beginning to pick up under Jose Mourinho. The issue the Portuguese manager now will endeavour to rectify is the side’s leaky defence.
In van Dijk, Mourinho would have a governing centre-back capable of marshalling the Red Devils defence towards seeming elusive clean sheets. It’s the type of leader the club hasn’t seen since the days of the Vidic/Ferdinand pairing.
Joining the blue half of Manchester would be the clearest signal of the defenders intentions in regards to the future of his own game. Pep Guardiola favours a ball playing centre-half and would look to improve this side of his game alongside summer signing John Stones.
With Vincent Kompany struggling to regain full fitness over the last 2 seasons the move makes perfect sense and would give City greater defensive steel as well as a set-piece threat, something Pep’s teams have been criticised for in the past.
With Conte’s new 3-4-2-1 formation, the Blues have begun implementing defensive masterclasses. It therefore may come to the bewilderment of many as to why van Dijk has been linked, however, it’s a lack of strength in squad depth which poses the problem.
With it looking ever more likely that the London club will bounce back into the Champions League at the first time of asking, the increased fixture list will require added quality. Conte has made no secrets of his desire to sign a defender and the Saints man’s attributes lend themselves perfectly to Chelsea’s system.