Italian football journalist Fabrizio Romano has recently suggested that Liverpool are working to extend the contract of Virgil van Dijk and will open negotiations with the Dutch international this year.
The 29-year-old defender has well and truly established himself as one of the world’s best in his position since joining from Southampton in January 2018, as he came second in the Ballon d’Or awards in 2019, with Lionel Messi beating him to the award.
The centre-back was instrumental in Liverpool’s title win last season, as he appeared in every single Premier League match, scoring five goals and averaging an incredible 7.32 rating.
Unfortunately, a shocking tackle from Jordan Pickford resulted in the defender damaging his cruciate ligament in October 2020, ruling him out for much of Liverpool’s 2020/21 season but he is making strong progress in the gym and could well make a return before the end of the current campaign.
Despite this injury, which may result in the former Celtic man no longer being the same type of player, the Reds must prioritise tying him down to a new deal this year, as his current deal is set to expire in 2023, and this new contract would surely see him stay with the Reds for the rest of his peak playing days.
Whilst Liverpool are said to be in negotiations with Georginio Wijnaldum over a new deal, as his contract expires in the summer, the former Newcastle man is far more replaceable than Van Dijk is.
The 30-year-old has disappointed with his performances this season, averaging a 6.66 rating for his performances in the top-flight, with fellow midfielders Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Thiago all rated higher, whilst young Curtis Jones is narrowly behind, suggesting that he would not be missed if he left this summer.
Meanwhile, both Real Madrid and Barcelona have been linked with Van Dijk in the past and if he is able to rediscover his form from last season when he returns from injury, it would not be a surprise to see those transfer links resurface.
Therefore, extending the £72 million-rated centre-back’s contract must be a priority for Liverpool, as he is clearly a huge part of the way Liverpool play, evidenced by him winning the Premier League player of the year last season following the title win.