Worrying news has been circling recently that Liverpool will have extremely stiff competition this summer for Southampton’s brilliant defender Virgil Van Dijk.
The Dutchman is wanted by Antonio Conte and a story by the very respected Matt Law of the Telegraph claims that Kurt Zouma is available for loan due to the expected arrival of Liverpool’s no.1 defensive target at Stamford Bridge.
Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise us if Chelsea, the expected champions, could muscle us out the way for Van Dijk, who many Reds have already included in their prospective XIs for next year.
But we’re likely to sell Mamadou Sakho for big money and will have a massive budget to spend on a centre-back – so if not Van Dijk – who?
Kalidou Koulibaly – Napoli
Like Van Dijk, he’s physically exceptional and a towering presence at the back. Chelsea have long been linked to the Senegalese, but if they buy Southampton’s prized asset, we could potentially have a free run at him. Aged 25, he’s perfectly ready for a blockbuster Premier League switch and could automatically become the linchpin of our defence.
Aymeric Laporte – Athletic Bilbao
A different style of centre-back to Van Dijk and Koulibaly; Laporte is like a Spanish John Stones. In fact, Pep Guardiola tried to sign him before settling on the Englishman. And like Stones, Laporte is technically brilliant and wonderful on the eye. While tall, he’s not the most powerful and we’d be a little nervous of his first trip to the Hawthorns or perhaps Selhurst Park.
Jonathan Tah – Bayer Leverkusen
Tah is a real bludgeoner. Physical, imposing and raw, he reminds us of Mamadou Sakho in that he can look unplayable at times but can occasionally make a silly decision. Would cost a lot of money and it’s unlikely his club will sell us the 21-year-old as well as his German colleague Julian Brandt, who’s our primary target for the wing.
Jose Gimenez – Atletico Madrid
We’re sure the Uruguayan would be acquirable because he’s no longer first-choice under Diego Simeone. There was a time he was rated as the world’s best young centre-back, but he’s only made 11 La Liga starts this term – aged 22. He’s feisty and aggressive, but occasionally gives away reckless fouls and penalties as a result. With maturity though, he could become exceptional.
Stefan de Vrij – Lazio
We should have probably targeted the Dutchman when he was still in the Eredivisie, as now he’s at Lazio, his price-tag will have blown-up. But for the Italians, he’s become pivotal and is a real leader in the backline. He’s probably the least attractive of the five players mentioned, but if they – or others like them – prove unavailable, he wouldn’t be the worst option.