Jurgen Klopp concedes people may look at the £75 million fee Liverpool have paid for Virgil van Dijk and think “wow”, but he remains confident the Netherlands centre-half will prove his worth to the Merseysiders over the next few years.
Klopp persuaded the Liverpool board to pay a world record fee for a defender for Van Dijk – the move confirmed on Wednesday – with the 26-year-old’s switch from Southampton to be made official when the transfer window opens on January 1.
Eyebrows have been raised at the financial commitment made by Liverpool for a player who has struggled to find his best form following a long-term injury lay-off caused by a foot problem, but Klopp has no doubt the former Celtic defender will turn out to be a shrewd addition.
He told Sky Sports News: “I can imagine that people will think ‘wow, what a number’, but for me it’s not really interesting. We don’t make the prices, the market makes the prices.
“The first thing that all Liverpool supporters should forget quite soon is the price. We only talk about the player and what he can bring in. The quality, the mentality, the character, all that stuff, and that’s why we’re really pleased with it.”
Klopp was unconcerned by Van Dijk’s recent struggles at St Mary’s and insisted he would not be rushed into a Liverpool defence that has failed to convince this season.
The German added: “It’s probably not been the best half season [for Van Dijk] at Southampton, he was a long time injured and we all know what happened last summer [Liverpool apologising after Southampton claimed they made an illegal approach for the player].
“He’s a tall player and they always need longer [to recover from injury] so he needs to get rhythm. But we have quality in that position so there’s no need to rush him.
“He needs to adapt to our style of play, it’s a different game but we are 100 per cent sure he will do it.”
With RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita also due to join Liverpool in July, it appears Klopp is assembling a squad to challenge for the Premier League title next season and he is confident the club is on an upward trajectory.
“We feel that for the last two years we have made steps in the right direction and that’s what the owners and supporters are asking for,” he said.
“Each new player we bring in is another step. We think we’ve done well in the transfer market but we also believe in improving the team on the training pitch.”
Van Dijk won’t be registered for fourth-placed Liverpool’s New Year’s Day trip to Burnley so his debut may come when Everton visit Anfield for a Merseyside derby in the FA Cup on January 5.
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