Premier League • England

Liverpool interest spilled in title-winning defender who claims he’s ‘just like’ Virgil van Dijk

David Hancko and Koki Ogawa

David Hancko up against Koki Ogawa

Liverpool have been revealed as a club interested in signing a defender who has already explained how he is similar to Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk has been the cornerstone of Liverpool’s backline ever since they signed him from Southampton six years ago. Other than when he was injured in the 2020-21 season, he has always been a regular starter for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

He has been named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year on three separate occasions and was even UEFA’s Men’s Player of the Year for 2018-19, his first full campaign with Liverpool.

However, Van Dijk will be 33 years old by the time next season begins. As things stand, 2024-25 is also due to be the last season of his contract at Anfield.

Therefore, Liverpool are on the lookout for a long-term successor to their defensive lynchpin, well aware that they will probably say goodbye to Joel Matip in the summer as well.

Now, some clues have emerged as to the identity of Liverpool’s targets.

In recent days, they have been tipped to swoop for Chelsea product Levi Colwill, for example. But another player – currently representing a club in Van Dijk’s native Netherlands – has been the subject of a more blatant leak about their pursuit.

Indeed, the agent of Feyenoord defender David Hancko has confirmed that Liverpool are rivalling Paris Saint-Germain for the Slovak’s signature.

“As an agency, we are in contact not only with these two clubs (Liverpool and PSG), but also with others who are looking into David’s situation,” Branislav Jasurek of FairSports Agency told TN.

“I estimate that, 80 to 90 per cent, David will stay in Rotterdam, because Feyenoord is fighting for the Champions League (qualification) and the people at Feyenoord know that David Hancko will be sold even in the summer and maybe better than now.

“It would have to be one of the big clubs. He will certainly not go from Feyenoord, which is going to play in the Champions League, to a club that will play in the bottom half of the Premier League.

“It is special about David that he still wants to talk with the coach. We believe that in the summer he will choose and choose the best in terms of sports, just like it was with Sparta Prague, which he preferred over other teams.

“Likewise with Feyenoord Rotterdam, which he preferred over other and more financially lucrative offers.”

The comments from Hancko’s agents have been followed up by British sources, such as HITC, which says Liverpool have confirmed they have watched the 26-year-old but not taken their interest any further just yet.

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Hancko is still in his second season with Feyenoord after winning the Eredivisie title in his first.

Last month, the former Fiorentina player extended his contract in Rotterdam until 2028.

Hancko makes van Dijk comparison

A move to the Premier League would be a new experience for him, but it might be reassuring to Liverpool how he is already trying to reflect Van Dijk’s style of defending.

“I love Virgil van Dijk,” Hancko has told Voetbal International.

“For me, before the World Cup in Qatar, he was the best defender in the world. There was no player who could go past him.

“I don’t want to compare myself with Virgil, but that invincible feeling he exudes was something I felt last season very strongly.

“Just like Virgil, I am not afraid of anyone. But that is different from not respecting my opponent.”

Hancko has now played 70 times for Feyenoord, including 25 appearances this season.

He is left-footed, which is a type of centre-back Liverpool are currently lacking (which also explains their interest in Colwill).

And although all his appearances this season have come in the middle of defence, Hancko sometimes operated at left-back last season, showing he can play in another position where the Reds are currently light due to injury issues for Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas.

But someone modelling their game on van Dijk sounds like someone Liverpool would want to put at the heart of their defence – especially as he approaches the prime of his career.

In fact, Hancko is the same age as van Dijk was when he joined Liverpool, indicating how the time could be right for him to make that kind of leap in his career.

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