What are the options for the Reds now that Van Dijk’s chances of returning this season have vanished? The Dutch centre-back suffered a Grade 3 cruciate ligament tear at the end of October. He underwent knee surgery and is looking at a long rehabilitation period. The earliest he can make an appearance is next season.
Van Dijk played a big role in landing Liverpool’s Premier League title and the Champions League last year. Football pundits are wondering how Liverpool will fare this season. With one of their best players out, will that affect their chances of doing the double? Bookies seem to think so! Take a look at the newest betting sites to find the best odds for Liverpool winning the league.
Fans and rivals are also watching keenly to see whom the Reds will pick to replace Van Dijk. There have been strong rumours lingering: Alaba, Kobak, Upamecano, Konate, and Diego Carlos. Who is most likely to step into Van Dijk’s big shoes?
The 20-year old Turkish international is a strong candidate for Van Dijk’s position. He has made a big impression in his short career. As the current center-back for German club Schalke, he has shown very promising talent and solid defending skills.
Kobak has a solid footballing background, joining Galatasaray’s youth academy at the tender age of 11 years. He spent seven years with the top Turkish club before the German club Stuttgart came for him. He spent only six months there before Schalke made a bid for him.
Kobak has shown confidence on the ball and quick reading of the field with efficient tackles. Schalke was demanding £31m (€35m) for him, but have dropped the price to £22m (€25m) making him a more valuable pick for Liverpool.
There have also been strong rumors that fellow dutchman Perr Schuurs is a desired replacement for Van Dijk. The 20-year old CB is currently with the top-flight Dutch club Ajax. His role in keeping rivals away from Ajax’s goalposts this season has been impressive.
Schuur has started in Keuken Kampioen Divisie with Jong Ajax. He later moved to Fortuna Sittard in the KNVB Beker, and finally to Ajax Amsterdam.
Schuur is not a stranger to Liverpool. He was at Merseyside on trial in 2018 before he signed up with Ajax. He also impressed Klopp in the tangle against Liverpool in October’s UEFA Champions game.
The 22-year old Frenchman has attracted top clubs’ attention, including Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea, and Manchester United. Liverpool fans are also rumored to be rooting strongly for him as a replacement for Van Dijk.
Upamecano is currently with Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg. He started with VS Angers at the age of 14 years. He then moved to FC Prey and Evreux FC 27. He moved up to French Ligue 2 with Valenciennes FC from 2013-2015. He moved to the Austrian Bundesliga club FC Red Bull Salzburg from 2015-2017, before joining RB Leipzig in 2017.
However, it seems that Upamecano is content to stay where he is. He signed a new contract with RB Leipzig, running up to 2023.
The 27-year old Brazilian CB has allegedly caught Klopp’s eye because of his physicality and bullying tactics that intimidate opponents. He was part of Sevilla’s squad that won the UEFA Europa League in 2019/2020.
Carlos started playing at 19 years with Desportivo Brasil. He was on loan to Sao Paulo, Paulista, and Madureira, before he transferred to Estoril, who loaned him to Porto B. He later moved to Nantes and finally Sevilla.
Some critics say that he has not mastered the aerial game despite his intimidating stature on the field. His game has also been described as a bit loose for his penchant to give away penalties.
This 21-year old Frenchman style of play has been likened to that of Van Dijk. He is dominant in the air, winning over 70% of aerial duels. He is dominant on the ground as well, with a liking to dribble a lot. He is on a 5-year contract with RB Leipzig.
Konate started playing as a 10-year old in the junior team of Paris FC. He later played for both junior and senior Sochaux teams before transferring to RB Leipzig in 2017. But Konate has not been very lucky on the field, picking up injuries that have cost him many games since the 2018/2019 season.
Jurgen Klopp has to fill Van Dijk’s position ASAP if he intends to claim the top position again. The good thing is that he does not lack for choice.