Just one of many transfer sagas this summer, Virgil van Dijk was a wanted man. At one point it seemed almost certain that he would be a Liverpool player for the new season, but the Reds were forced to retreat on the back of ‘tapping-up’ allegations from Southampton. Liverpool bided their time and nearly swooped right near the end of the window with fans even speculating over Van Dijk being on a private jet to Merseyside. Despite all this, Virgil van Dijk remains a Southampton player at the time of writing and is currently in the process of being reintegrated into the first team squad after appearing for the youth side.
Liverpool’s defensive deficiencies have been as evident as ever at the beginning of this season which only serves to heighten expectations that the Reds will move for the Dutch defender again in January. With this looking likely, we thought we’d take a look at some potential replacements that could fill the Van Dijk shaped hole that would be left.
Chris Smalling is somewhat out of favour at Manchester United as he has found himself right down the pecking order behind the likes of Lindelof, Bailly and Jones, to name a few. Based on this, I think it would be perfectly feasible for United to let him go this year. The Englishman boasts 31 caps and was voted ‘Players’ player of the year’ at Old Trafford for the 2015/2016 season after a stellar season. Smalling is a good athlete and fairly comfortable on the ball meaning he would slot in well to the Southampton side. These factors, alongside the fact that he would probably be available for under £20m would make him a great replacement, whilst also leaving the Saints with some extra spending money to use elsewhere.
Winston Reid is another option for Southampton, should the Kiwi defender be looking for a new challenge. It may be difficult to convince the Hammers to sell but should they manage that, they’d have an excellent defender on their hands. Reid is the New Zealand captain and has captained West Ham on a number of occasions too, evidence of his great leadership qualities. Once linked with Arsenal and Spurs, Reid has invaluable Premier League experience having plied his trade in England for over 7 years now. Another excellent athlete, Reid would be a great addition to the Saints backline.
Jonny Evans was the subject of major interest from both Manchester City and Arsenal this summer and if it weren’t for other transfers, could well have been playing for one of the two this season. The Northern Irish defender performed admirably at United, where he started, but it is at West Brom where he has really grown. Evans has become a solid defender under Tony Pulis, exhibiting all the characteristics that we expect from the experienced manager whilst also showing a real liking for reading the game too. This move could involve a fairly hefty transfer fee, perhaps over £25m, due to interest from other clubs but I think Evans would be a really good replacement for Van Dijk.
Dejan Lovren is probably one of the last names you’d have expected to see on this list but I’ve included him for one reason and one reason only. That reason is that he could perhaps benefit from a return to the club where he made his mark and established himself as a top defender. Lovren has been nothing short of woeful since joining Liverpool and has been a complete liability but there a slight chance that he could rediscover his form of old at his former club. It would be a bit of a risk on Southampton’s part but if Van Dijk went to Liverpool then the Saints could expect a favourable deal for Lovren’s fee.
Federico Fernandez signed for Swansea in 2014 and since then has been quietly establishing himself as one of the most underrated defenders in the league. The Argentinian has 32 caps to his name and again possesses invaluable Premier League experience. Fernandez would likely be available for a minimal fee and could step straight into Van Dijk’s vacated place.
Who do you think would be a good replacement for Virgil Van Dijk? Let us know in the comments below!
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