Liverpool made Virgil Van Dijk the most expensive defender in football history on this day in 2017.
Van Dijk’s £75million move from Southampton was confirmed four days ahead of the transfer window reopening on January 1.
The Holland international had been expected to join Liverpool the previous summer after handing in a transfer request, but the move fell through when the Reds apologised for making an alleged illegal approach for the 26-year-old.
“Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player,” Van Dijk said on his Instagram account.
“Today is a proud day for me and my family as I join one of the biggest clubs in world football.
“I can’t wait to pull on the famous red shirt for the first time in front of the Kop and will give everything I have to try and help this great club achieve something special in the years to come.”
Van Dijk moved to Southampton from Celtic in a £13m deal in September 2015 and signed a new six-year contract at St Mary’s in the following May.
Liverpool’s fee for Van Dijk was a club record and comfortably eclipsed the most ever paid for a defender, surpassing the £52m Manchester City spent on Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy in July 2017.
“It’s quality, it’s character, it’s mentality and all that stuff,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said of his new acquisition. That’s why we are really happy.
“I can imagine people think ‘Wow, what a number this is’ but of course for me this is not interesting.
“We don’t make the prices, the market makes the prices and the first thing all Liverpool supporters should forget is the price.”
Van Dijk made his Liverpool debut on January 5, 2018 and scored the winner as the Reds beat Merseyside rivals Everton 2-1 in an FA Cup third round tie at Anfield.
He has since made 130 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 13 goals, and his impact was such that he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2019.
Van Dijk was a cornerstone of the Liverpool team that won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020.
But in October, he underwent anterior cruciate ligament surgery after being injured against Everton at Goodison and will miss most of the 2020-21 campaign.
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