Georginio Wijanldum has revealed Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp’s long-standing interest in Virgil van Dijk and the part the midfielder played in the Reds’ decision to sign the defender.
Van Dijk moved to Liverpool in a world-record fee for a defender in January 2018 – a record that stood until this summer when Manchester United signed Harry Maguire for £80million.
And, having helped Liverpool to Champions League glory in his first full season at Anfield, the £75m fee Liverpool paid Southampton is looking like a bargain; it’s little wonder it’s been reported the centre-half could be in line for a new deal on Merseyside.
One man who is glad to call Van Dijk a teammate at club and country is midfielder Wijanldum, who admits Klopp consulted with him before sanctioning the Liverpool club record swoop.
“Before I even joined Liverpool I had a meeting with Jurgen and during our talks he asked me about Virgil van Dijk,” Wijnaldum said.
“I had always rated Virgil very highly and my exact words to Jurgen were, ‘He is going to make the defence a lot better’.
“So I was not surprised when Virgil won the UEFA Best Player award ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. I actually expected him to win it.
“Virgil has had a blinder of a season and has been so successful. Nothing about him surprises me any more.”
Liverpool have the chance to add another trophy to their cabinet in December when they play in the Club World Cup in Qatar, but one team’s president already says the challenge of facing the European champions will not scare his side in any way.
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