Virgil van Dijk has gradually become the gold-standard for transfers, such is his impact at Liverpool.
But the Dutchman has proven to be an incredible success, transforming Liverpool into a top side. His impact goes beyond helping to bring the Champions League trophy to Anfield, though.
Now, others want their own defensive lynchpin. Manchester City bought Aymeric Laporte shortly afterwards – breaking their transfer record to do so.
Then there’s Harry Maguire. The Leicester City man is linked with both Manchester clubs – for a reported price of £100m.
The comparison’s to Van Dijk are natural. ‘Top six’ clubs spending big on a solid defender from a midtable Premier League club. And the doubts will be there: can Maguire step up a level to lead a defence at the top?
And this is why Van Dijk is the gold-standard. Everyone else is playing catch-up to Liverpool, hoping they can spend big to find someone who can make the same impact. Fees like this simply didn’t exist prior to his signing.
But, it should be said, none of them carries the reputation Van Dijk did. Despite the doubts, he was the most assured defender in the league – that’s the reason Liverpool went above and beyond before anyone else.
Laporte has been a very good signing, although not quite on Van Dijk’s level. De Ligt and Hernandez are both young – there’s still plenty of development to go.
While Maguire feels like a real risk at that price, an attempt to recreate the magic of Van Dijk. That’s a sentiment that Vincente Iborra, a former teammate of Maguire’s, expresses in an interview with Radio Marca.
The Spaniard is full of praise for the Englishman in his interview. One comment is telling, though.
“His [proposed] transfer to Manchester City could be like Van Dijk’s to Liverpool,” he said. And that’s what it’s all about.
Liverpool set the standard. Now everyone else is playing catch up.