Liverpool end window on a positive note but still in need of Virgil van Dijk

Credit where it is due, Liverpool’s identification of their priority targets at the start of the transfer window was excellent. 

In nine months’ time, Mohamed Salah is likely to be a leading candidate when pundits are trying to name their signing of the season. Naby Keita is a midfielder that Klopp’s Liverpool can build around in years to come. Virgil van Dijk is perhaps not worthy of becoming the world’s most expensive defender, but he is an established Premier League performer and the composed head required at Anfield.

When it came to actually bringing those targets to the club, however, supporters cannot be wholly satisfied. The first of those three targets signed, the second did not but will arrive next year while the future of the third remains up in the air.

Even with the supplementary acquisitions of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson, all signings with promise that add depth to a shallow squad, it was a 6/10, C-grade window. ‘Could do better’.

The main disappointment will be that Van Dijk remains a Southampton player and thus the area of Klopp’s squad that most needed reinforcements has gone without any.

The Dutchman would not have been a cure-all, as has been previously argued, and Liverpool were right to pursue attacking reinforcements like Thomas Lemar given their extra commitments this season.

Yet without him the centre of Liverpool’s defence not only looks a little weak but also a little light. Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip will be Klopp’s first-choice partnership with Ragnar Klavan in reserve. Joe Gomez looks like an established member of the first-team squad again, but he has only recently returned to contend for a place and there will be times when he has to provide cover at full-back. 

Premier League Transfer Deadline Day: Latest done deals

How Klopp manages his resources at the back will be interesting. Prior to the collapse at Bournemouth in December and the winter struggles that followed, his back-line looked relatively sound last season. It is the same defence that took Liverpool to the Champions League and the same that has kept two cleans sheets in its opening three Premier League games. Yet if there were no room for improvement, there would have been no interest in Van Dijk.

Ultimately, Liverpool’s pursuit was set on the back foot from the moment that Southampton complained to the…

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