Jamie Carragher has noted that Virgil van Dijk will need to replicate the achievements of Rio Ferdinand at Manchester United to justify £75m fee paid for him by Liverpool ahead of the January transfer window.
The club confirmed that Van Dijk, who spent the summer unsuccessfully angling for a move to Merseyside, would finally join up with Jurgen Klopp’s men.
He has become the most expensive defender of all time, evoking memories of Ferdinand joining Man United from Leeds for £34m – a figure that becomes £134m when aligned with present day inflation.
And Carragher, reflecting on the transfer on Sky Sports, made it clear that he has his work cut out when it comes to justifying such a grand investment.
“The one centre-back when the transfer fee felt so huge at the time was 15 years ago when Rio Ferdinand went to Manchester United,” he said.
“But he repaid that. He was Manchester United’s top centre-back, won trophies and was there for 10 years.
“That is what Van Dijk has to do, take Liverpool to trophies and be Liverpool’s No 1 centre-back for the next decade or so.”
Sometimes transfers are only partly about what is happening on the pitch, and this feels like a perfect example.
Liverpool’s title credentials have been tainted solely by the simple notion that they can’t defend and, perhaps more worryingly, that Klopp doesn’t seem prepared to address this issue in any meaningful sense.
Just like how United responded to being knocked off the elite platform under David Moyes by signing Angel Di Maria, Liverpool’s acquisition of Van Dijk – a good defender who will, no doubt, serve as a preferable alternative to Dejan Lovren – feels like a response to those narratives, which can often seem more powerful and prevalent than what happens on the pitch.
There isn’t a better response to those who say you don’t care about defending than breaking the world transfer record a defender, after all.
Whether it actually reverses the perception of Liverpool’s leakiness in that area, however, remains to be seen.