Klopp plays down record fee for Van Dijk

30Dec 2017
The Guardian
Klopp plays down record fee for Van Dijk

LIVERPOOL manager Juergen Klopp has urged supporters to “forget about the price tag” for the club’s record signing Virgil van Dijk and focus on the qualities of the Dutch international.

Van Dijk will arrive at Anfield from Southampton at the start of next month after the clubs agreed a reported 75 million pound ($101 million) fee that would make him the world’s most expensive defender.

The signing of the 26-year-old centre back is expected to offer stability to a Liverpool defensive line that has come in for heavy criticism this season.

“Quality ... That’s why we got him, that’s why we were interested in him,” Klopp told Sky Sports.

”I can imagine people think ‘wow’ what a number it is. But for me it is not really interesting. We don’t make the prices, the market is making the prices. The first thing all Liverpool supporters should forget is the price tag.

“We only talk about the player and what he can bring in; the quality, the mentality, the character.”

Liverpool play two Premier League fixtures in the space of 48 hours when they host Leicester City on Saturday and then travel to Burnley on New Year’s Day.

They featured in a similar quickfire double-header during festive period last season, when they beat Manchester City but could only manage a draw against Sunderland.

“You cannot learn from it, you only learn to accept it,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com, referring to the fixture congestion.

“Now the focus is on Leicester. We are prepared for that game, for sure, and then we will see.”

Liverpool are fourth in the league table with 38 points from 20 matches. Leicester are eighth on 27 points.

Meanwhile, Leicester City boss Claude Puel believes Virgil van Dijk has all the attributes to become the best defender in the world following his record transfer from Southampton to Liverpool.

Puel had Van Dijk as his captain at Southampton last season as the south coast club fought to keep the centre back at the club.

The Dutch international finally secured a move to Anfield as the world’s most expensive defender on Wednesday, with British media reporting it was a 75 million pounds deal.

Leicester visit Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday, with Van Dijk officially joining the Merseyside club when the transfer window opens on Jan. 1.

“He is one of the best defenders in the world and he has all the qualities to become the best. It is fantastic for Liverpool,” Puel told a news conference on Thursday.

”He can play in different good teams and it is a good reward for him. At the beginning of the season it is difficult for him because he wants to join another club, but now he will find his level.

“I am happy for him and happy he can’t play against us.”

Puel’s Leicester, eighth in the league table with 27 points from 20 matches, will be looking to end their four-game winless run in all competitions at Anfield this weekend.

“They are a great team with good defenders, midfield and attacking players. They are a complete team. We have to look after our play and try to play our game against them,” Puel added.

“We had good opportunities and good results recently against big teams like against Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham. We like the big occasion.”

Meanwhile, Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino is hopeful the club can land at least three of their transfer targets to make up for the loss of centre back Virgil van Dijk, who swapped life on the south coast for Liverpool for a world record transfer fee.

Van Dijk will arrive at Anfield on January 1 after the clubs agreed a reported 75 million pound ($100.91 million) fee that would make him the world’s most expensive defender and Pellegrino said the deal should benefit the Saints.

“You have to analyse in a positive way to reinvest this money in our squad to try to be stronger. At Southampton, it is impossible to bring in players for 80 million pounds or 50 million pounds,” the Argentine told reporters.

”But maybe for us it can mean a couple of good players. Maybe we can change one player for two or three players with this money.

“We are talking about the couple of targets that we’ve got. I would like to bring in a couple of players minimum and we have to work for this.”

Before the transfer window opens on Monday, 14th-placed Southampton face a tough trip to second-placed Manchester United as they look to end a poor run of seven Premier League games without a victory.

Regular fullbacks Cedric Soares (back) and Ryan Bertrand (hamstring) are still recovering from injuries and will not be available for the trip to Old Trafford. ($1 = 0.7441 pounds)