Steve McManaman has hailed Virgil van Dijk’s perfect start to life at Liverpool after he made his debut against rivals Everton in the FA Cup third-round win Friday.
Van Dijk put in an assured performance and got the winning goal in a 2-1 victory at Anfield, scoring a header from a corner in the 84th minute.
The Dutch international moved for £75 million at the very beginning of the transfer window and McManaman thinks that the centre-back is already leading Liverpool’s defence.
“He looked really composed — it was a hard game to play in because he has only just arrived,” McManaman said in response to Goal’s question. “It was a hard game to get involved with and the fact he scored the winner was great.
“He looks dangerous from set pieces, he had a chance earlier than that. There’s no better way to be loved by the fans than score the winner in a derby match. He has won half the battle already. Sometimes it can take a while to get into games.
“We know he’s a winner but the fact he scored the winner in a derby match straight away is great. Liverpool didn’t make a lot of chances in the game, which is unusual for them, so it was needed.
“He is the big main centre-half and [Joel] Matip is only a quiet lad so he has to be vocal. He has come for the price tag that he has come in for (£75m), so he has to show he’s the star man and that he is the boss. I think he has done that, he looks like a good addition for Liverpool.”
McManaman played 364 games for Liverpool over the course of a career that also saw him wear Real Madrid’s famous white shirt. He has since become a football pundit across many platforms, including BT Sport.
He thinks that although Van Dijk has broken the transfer record for a defender that it shouldn’t put too much pressure on him, with the record likely to be broken in the coming transfer windows.
“I think people don’t even focus on the price tag now. It is getting ridiculous,” he added. “The money is telephone numbers, everyone is worth that much now and next week it could be broken again.
“Of course, it is a lot of money for a centre-half but I think it is becoming less of an issue now. Coutinho left for double that they’ve paid for [Van Dijk] after they bought [Coutinho] for £8.5m. So it is becoming less and less relevant now the money.”
Liverpool may have secured Van Dijk but they have since lost Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142m and that sale certainly won’t help in Liverpool’s attempts to secure a top-four spot this season, while they can only hope to win silverware in the FA Cup and Champions League.
McManaman thinks that Manchester City are favourites for all domestic English competitions and believes Liverpool rank as outsiders.
“Manchester City are the favourites,” he continued. “The team [Pep Guardiola] put out [against Burnley] was impressive. Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker were on the bench and Zinchenko started but apart from that it was strong. They had 70-plus per cent possession in the first half.
“You expect them to go through and compete. I think the others should be focusing more now on the cup and the Champions League, of course. We all think that Manchester City can walk away with the league.
“Liverpool can only really win the cup or the Champions League and they should have a right good go of it. Is it a failure not to win anything? No, I don’t think so, not when there are big teams spending so much money.
“It is important to give the fans silverware. Liverpool need to win silverware at some point. Manchester City and Manchester United will want to give their fans something after the investment. Mourinho wants to give his fans silverware after winning some trophies last season.”