Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk: World-Record £75M Fee 'Wasn't a Big Issue'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2019

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool in action during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City at Anfield on August 09, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said he did not feel extra pressure at Anfield after he arrived for a world-record £75 million fee. 

The Dutchman became the most expensive defender in history when he joined Liverpool in January 2018 from Southampton, though he was recently knocked off the top of the list by Harry Maguire after Manchester United splashed out £80 million on him this summer.

Per Goal's Dejan Kalinic Van Dijk said of his transfer fee:

"It wasn't a big issue for me. It's something you don't have an influence on.

"It happens, it's the market, and the only thing you can do is put your head down and start playing, give everything for the team. 

"That's what I did, and it [has] worked so far. I'll just try to keep doing that, keep progressing and be a better player." 

The 28-year-old has already gone some way to repaying the faith put in him by the Reds.

In the 2017-18 season, Liverpool had shipped 28 goals in 23 Premier League matches prior to his debut. Van Dijk played in 14 of their final 15 games, and in that time they conceded just 10.

Last season, he played a key role in Liverpool boasting the best defensive record in the English top flight with 22 goals conceded. He started all 38 games and failed to complete 90 minutes just once.

Van Dijk also helped Liverpool reach back-to-back UEFA Champions League finals, and they won the second of those against Tottenham Hotspur in June.

In both the Premier League and the Champions League, getting past the defender proved impossible for his opponents:

Goal @goal

Not one player managed to dribble past Virgil van Dijk in the 2018-19 Premier League season 🤯 https://t.co/ftyQrKDtk2

OptaJose @OptaJose

1 - Virgil van Dijk has played more minutes played without being dribbled past by an opponent than any other outfield player in a single Champions League season since at least 2005/06 (1080 minutes). Titan. https://t.co/WEtzaVJUwS

As Liverpool.com's Joel Rabinowitz observed, he contributes at the other end of the pitch, too:

Joel Rabinowitz @joel_archie

Van Dijk has 6 goals in his last 18 appearances for Liverpool. Double figures this season is not unrealistic.

Maguire will be under pressure to have a comparable impact at Old Trafford, not only because of the fee but also in light of Van Dijk's impressive handling of similar circumstances at Anfield, which will invite comparison.

United conceded 54 Premier League goals last season, a record bettered by 10 other teams, so there's plenty of scope for improvement there.

The England international's arrival should help in that regard, but replicating Van Dijk's transformative impact at Liverpool will be difficult.