Klopp plays down record fee for Van Dijk

AFP
Opinion is divided over whether the Liverpool manager was right to pay such a huge sum for a player that EPL leader Manchester City wanted before it balked at the asking price.
AFP
Reuters

Southampton's Oriol Romeu and Virgil van Dijk (right) during warm up before the English Premier League match against Arsenal at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton in this December 10, 2017, photo. Van Dijk has signed for Liverpool in a new world-record deal for a defender.

Juergen Klopp insists it doesn't matter that he paid a world-record fee for a defender to sign Virgil van Dijk because the Dutch star is good enough to prove value for money.

Klopp splashed out a reported 75 million pounds (US$100 million) to bring Van Dijk to Anfield from Southampton on Wednesday.

Opinion is divided over whether the Liverpool manager was right to pay such a huge sum for a player that English Premier League leader Manchester City wanted before it balked at the asking price.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville claimed Netherlands international Van Dijk isn't worth it, while ex-Liverpool center-back Jamie Carragher disagrees.

But Klopp doesn't care about the size of the transfer because he is confident Van Dijk will plug the holes in Liverpool's leaky defence.

Asked what the 26-year-old will add to Liverpool, Klopp told Sky Sports: "Quality. That's why we got him, that's why we were interested in him. It's quite difficult at the moment because technically he's still a Southampton player.

"We don't make the prices, the market does. Liverpool supporters should forget about the price.

"We only talk about the player and what he can bring in; the quality, the mentality, the character. That is why we are really happy about it."

Van Dijk has struggled to reach peak form this season after missing several games due to injury and the fallout from a rejected transfer request in August.

But Liverpool had tried to land Van Dijk before the transfer deadline and Klopp is relieved to have finally got the center-back, who will officially arrive on January 1 and could make his debut in the FA Cup third round tie against Merseyside rival Everton.

Calling for fans to allow time for Van Dijk to adapt to Liverpool, Klopp said: "Virgil hasn't had the best first half to the season at Southampton.

"He was out injured for a long time and we all know about the things that happened last summer.

"He's a tall player, they always need a little bit longer especially after being out for around nine months.

"But that's no problem. We already have quality here in that position so we don't have to rush anything.

"He needs to adapt to our style of play. It's a completely different game, but we are 100 per cent sure he will do it."

Liverpool plays two EPL fixtures in the space of 48 hours when it hosts Leicester City on Saturday and then travels to Burnley on New Year's Day.

The Reds 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 is fourth in the league table with 38 points from 20 matches. Leicester is eighth on 27 points.


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