Liverpool are flying high in Jürgen Klopp’s first full season at the helm, but the German is still not content with his side. Although they have been playing some of the most exciting and attacking football in the top flight, The Reds’ defence has let them down on numerous occasions this term. The former Borussia Dortmund manager has even said tha this Liverpool side are not yet performing at 100%. Reports suggest that Klopp is ready to bolster the squad further in January, in his quest to deliver Liverpool’s first ever Premier League title in May.
According to The Sun, Liverpool are preparing to once again raid Southampton for defensive reinforcements in the New Year and will put in a £40 million bid for Virgil Van Dijk and academy product Sam McQueen. The Reds have conceded 14 goals after 12 games this season, and have only managed to keep 2 clean sheets. They desperately need more solidity in their backline, so have earmarked The Saints’ Van Dijk as the man for the job. McQueen would provide another option in the left-back position.
In most of their football matches this season Liverpool have been favourites with bookies to prevail due to their attacking threat, but their odds are likely to shorten further once they tighten up at the back. Chelsea are a prime example of this, and their odds to win the title have now been slashed to 5/2 with Betway after they kept their sixth successive clean sheet of the campaign.
Since joining Southampton last season, Van Dijk has been one of the standout defenders in the league. With him in the side Southampton kept 10 clean sheets in 2015-16, and only conceded 36 goals. The 25-year-old won 74.5% of aerial duels, and 66.2% of his tackles were successful. This season he is continuing to help the Southampton backline remain one of the best in the league, and the South coast side have only let in 12 goals in 12 games. That’s on a par with Arsenal and better than Manchester United and Liverpool. Southampton have lost 121 challenges compared to Liverpool’s 146, and the Saints have also only made 2 major defensive errors compared to The Reds’ 6.
It is clear that Liverpool need to strengthen their backline and there is no doubt that Van Dijk could be the man for the job. If the Mersey side outfit manage to sign the Dutchman, the likelihood is that it would be Dejan Lovren who would make way. The Croatian has proved to be too unreliable during his time at Anfield and made a fatal error which led to a goal in the tie against Crystal Palace in October (see video above).
Lovren aside, Liverpool’s plundering of Southampton has been successful in the past. Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana, and Sadio Mane have all turned out to be excellent acquisitions. Van Dijk may be tempted by the massive chance to win trophies at the more prestigious club, and follow in the footsteps of his predecessors.
James Milner has managed to fit in well at left-back after Klopp lost faith in the error-prone Alberto Moreno. Signing McQueen would enable the German to rotate his side more to cope with possible injuries during the hectic festive period. Milner would also be able to slot back into midfield to cover absentees there if needed.
There is no doubt that Liverpool look like one of the strongest sides in the league and are well in the hunt for the title. It was the defence that let them down in 2013-14, though, when they came so close to winning. If Klopp can solve the defensive woes, The Reds may just go on to lift the trophy.