Jack Hallows believes Liverpool should be ignoring Stefan de Vrij’s contract situation at Lazio and instead look closer to home.
It’s been widely reported over the last week or so that Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij is coming to the end of his current Lazio deal and will not be signing fresh terms with the Serie A club.
Not the worst news at all for Liverpool who, despite signing Virgil van Dijk for £70m, could still use another upgrade in the defensive department. The Reds’ record defensive signing himself is a Rolls-Royce of a player but the current conversation point is over who partners him.
Matip was thought the ideal man for the job back when initial interest was broadcast in the summer but the Cameroonian has almost regressed this season while Dejan Lovren, despite improving in recent weeks, is always capable of a howler.
The argument for signing de Vrij is a strong one.
At 26 years old, he’s experienced while still just about coming to his prime years as a centre half. Being Dutch, he’d also have a connection with van Dijk already and while I admittedly haven’t looked into it, he’s probably already played – or at very least trained – with him.
He’s tall (188cm), superb in the air (31/43 aerial duels won in Serie A this campaign), composed on the ball and has even shown his ability at the other end of the pitch, scoring four Serie A goals this term. His injury record is also impressive – he’s only missed one league fixture this season.
However, despite the title of this article, I’m not suggesting Liverpool should ignore de Vrij entirely, simply that they should be making this man a priority instead.
It was revealed on Thursday that Spurs would prefer to let the Belgian defender leave the club instead of meeting his wage demands – rumoured to be £150,000 a week. If this is true, Liverpool should absolutely be trying to force their way to the front of the queue for the former Atletico man’s signature.
At 28 years of age, Alderweireld is now in his prime years and his performances for the London club over the last three seasons have only been a testament to this.
It’s no secret that since Alderweireld joined Spurs in 2015, they’ve only improved as a unit. The Belgian’s leadership abilities, defensive positioning, composure on the ball and ability to snuff out attacks and launch a counter all in one movement have been a major contributor to the implementation of Pochettino’s ‘build from the back’ philosophy.
If he moved to Liverpool, the Belgian would absolutely provide the perfect foil for Virgil van Dijk and represent a major upgrade on Dejan Lovren.
Where the Dutchman is an imperious defender, towering over opposition strikers and using his height and frame to his advantage, Alderweireld is a no-nonsense, in your face style centre-half.
The van Dijk/Lovren partnership has admittedly been working well this season but imagine, that partnership except both centre halves can read the game superbly, have passing ranges that central midfielders crave and never stop communicating.
That’s what you’d be getting with Alderweireld.
There are also stylistic benefits to signing the Belgian too.
Having played under ‘Poch’ for three seasons, the Belgian is adept at being part of a pressing, high-tempo game and would relish having willing runners such as Salah, Firmino and Mané to aim at when looking to get on the front foot. There’s also the added plus of his four seasons of Premier League experience – one at Southampton, three at Spurs – meaning the bedding in period would be far less than if signing a defender from abroad.
Don’t get me wrong, if Liverpool opted to sign Stefan de Vrij on a free transfer this summer I’d not be unhappy. It would be a shrewd move from Klopp and the owners and would free up funds to spend on improving the squad elsewhere – a new keeper perhaps? However, if the opportunity to sign Toby Alderweireld is there, I hope that Liverpool opt to take it.