Jamie Carragher has suggested that one of Liverpool’s Premier League title rivals may have pulled off their own version of an Anfield masterstroke from six years ago.
It was midway through the 2017/18 season that the Reds made Virgil van Dijk’s the world’s then-most expensive defender when signing him from Southampton for £75m (BBC Sport), with the Dutchman since going on to become one of the best players of the glittering Jurgen Klopp era on Merseyside.
In his latest column for The Telegraph, Carragher intimated that Arsenal’s £105m acquisition of Declan Rice in the summer is already showing signs that it’ll have an equally transformative effect on Mikel Arteta’s side.
The Sky Sports pundit wrote: “For Arsenal, the move for Rice was a no-brainer. I believe we will be talking about him as an Arsenal great in seven or eight years, and that his £105 million fee will look like a snip.
“Ultimately, he could be for Arsenal what Virgil van Dijk has been for Liverpool. Van Dijk cost £75 million but, after everything he has achieved at Anfield, that fee is rightly regarded as a bargain.
“City were interested, of course, and there would have been no chance for Arsenal this season if Rice had gone to the Etihad instead of the Emirates. With him in their team, Arsenal have a player who will become a club legend – and a man who could bring the Premier League title back to north London.”
Liverpool had been linked with Rice for a long period of time before the England international ultimately sealed his move to Arsenal in July.
The Reds successfully overhauled their own midfield with four new acquisitions for a cumulative £147.6m (Transfermarkt), although the performances of the 24-year-old at the Emirates Stadium might have some Kopites wondering about the impact he could’ve made had he come to Anfield.
The former West Ham captain is the Gunners’ second-highest player this season according to WhoScored metrics, while he’s also chipped in with some crucial late goals, most recently the 97th-minute winner in a 4-3 thriller at Luton on Tuesday night.
Rice has already gone some way to repaying his £105m fee, but he still has plenty to do if his impact at Arsenal is to match that of Van Dijk at Liverpool.
The Reds went from conceding 28 goals in 23 Premier League games in 2017/18 prior to the Dutchman’s top-flight debut for us, to 10 in the subsequent 15 for the rest of the season with him in the side, and just 22 in the entirety of the 2018/19 campaign, when he started every match (Transfermarkt).
Few signings have ever been so transformative at Anfield, and if the Gunners’ number 41 can even come close to making that much of a difference in north London, he’ll have done an awful lot right.