Liverpool coach admits seeking Virgil van Dijk solution that "never happened"

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It's five years since Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool (Image: Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

One of Jurgen Klopp's assistant knew Virgil van Dijk was the perfect signing after Liverpool's attack failed to get the better of him during a Premier League fixture.

It's five years since Van Dijk, 31, joined the Reds from Southampton in a £75million deal. The transfer raised eyebrows at the time due to the Netherlands international's huge price tag, but he's proved to be one of Liverpool's greatest ever signings.

Van Dijk has played more than 200 games and won seven trophies - including the Premier League title and Champions League - since the transfer. Liverpool coach Peter Krawietz has recalled the moment when they decided Van Dijk was worth investing in.

"We faced Virgil when he was playing for Southampton and it was quite interesting," Krawietz told Liverpool's website. "When I tried to analyse Southampton and how to beat their last line I always thought, ‘Come on, yes, he’s a big, tall guy, a good centre-half, but there must be a way to beat them and to outplay’ – and, actually, it never really happened!

"When you hear that there is a good centre-half then of course you start looking and the longer we watched and analysed, we were pretty convinced. We felt it in the games against Southampton as well, how good he is and how strong and how quick.

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"So, we were ready and we knew, 'OK, this should be the one, our choice, our first choice'. We were then really happy when it happened on January 1, 2018."

Liverpool coach admits seeking Virgil van Dijk solution that "never happened"Virgil van Dijk has become a Liverpool icon (OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Do you think Virgil van Dijk was worth £75million back in January 2018? Let us know in the comments below!

Liverpool were questioned for spending £75m - a record fee for a defender - on Van Dijk back in January 2018. Yet the decision was vindicated when he was named as UEFA's Men's Player of the Year and the PFA Players' Player of the Year 18 months later.

"Southampton have got one hell of a deal," Alan Shearer told BBC Sport five years ago. "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 absolutely 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."

Shearer wasn't completely wrong, as Liverpool spent £66.8m on Roma goalkeeper Alisson six months after signing Van Dijk. But, like Van Dijk, Alisson proved to be a superb signing after immediately establishing himself as a one of the Premier League's best goalkeepers.

Harry Redknapp also claimed £75m was "crazy money for a central defender" - but you pay for what you get. Liverpool knew Van Dijk was worth it and have been reaping the rewards ever since. Just don't mention the £80m Manchester United paid for Harry Maguire.

Tom Blow

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