Liverpool have been linked with a number of reported central defensive targets in recent weeks which have included some high-profile names such as Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kunde and Milan Skriniar, according to reports. But is it time the Reds also put Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard in the running?
Vestergaard, 28, has been in inspired form for Southampton, who currently sit top of the Premier League table, and of all Liverpool’s reported targets, the towering Danish international is arguably the best naturally suited replacement to cover for Virgil van Dijk.
He certainly ticks a lot of boxes. He’s a talented player, for one, at the peak of his powers. It means he’s experienced enough to come in and make an immediate impact while still at an age where he can remain at the top level for the next five to six years.
Also, he is Premier League proven which is a huge asset when looking for someone to hit the ground running straight away. After all, it was Southampton who Liverpool turned to in 2018 to transform their previous defensive woes and the club have never looked back since.
Vestergaard strikingly has a number of similarities that can be elevated even further at a club like Liverpool. He is outstanding from an aerial standpoint winning on average 3.3 of his aerial duels per game.
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He is also a huge threat from an attacking standpoint having already scored twice for Southampton in the club’s opening seven league matches
According to WhoScored, Vestergaard has been ranked as the fourth most influential defender in the league this season and has successfully helped his team to four clean sheets, which alongside Wolves is the joint-highest in the division.
Is he available?
Although Vestergaard has yet to be identified as a credibly reported target of Liverpool’s, his growing stature in the English top-flight is only going to raise the case that he should at least be considered.
The former Borussia Mönchengladbach powerhouse is contracted at St Mary’s until 2022 which indicates Southampton cannot afford to be too ambitious when it comes to price as they risk running down his contract to point where Vestergaard effectively has to wait a year before potentially leaving on a desmond.
Vestergaard joined Southampton in 2018 for a fee of £18 million [Sky Sports] which would suggest Liverpool will likely have to pay double that figure if they deemed the 6ft 6in defender as a viable target.
The million-dollar question for Liverpool is how much are the club really prepared to invest in a Van Dijk alternative?
The Dutchman is unlikely to return until the end of the season and by the time he does, he will be approaching 30 and the latter stages of his career. Also, when you consider the injury record of Joel Matip, it only increases the urgency for a defender in January as opposes to next summer.
Liverpool need a player who can step in immediately and someone who is already proven to be a success in the Premier League. Vestergaard certainly fits that particular bill.
The Reds have had a number of success stories from Southampton in the past, Sadio Mane and Van Dijk to name a few, and under Ralph Hasenhüttl, Vestergaard will have implemented similar qualities into his game that Jurgen Klopp holds in high esteem.
It’s a player the Reds would be wise to at least consider once the transfer window opens again in January.
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