- Liverpool paid a £75m – a world record for a defender – to sign Virgil van Dijk
- Mark Lawrenson was a club record transfer when he arrived at Anfield in 1981
- The Dutch defender will have to adapt fast to live up to his huge transfer fee
The pressure is on Virgil van Dijk straight away. I say that from experience as the day I joined Liverpool from Brighton for £900,000 in 1981, I was saddled with the title of ‘club record transfer’.
My fee was the talking point but I just put it to the back of my mind. The only thing you can influence is what you do on the pitch. The cost of transfers may have spiralled but nothing has changed in players having to prove themselves.
Liverpool had just won their third European Cup in four years and the one thing I wanted in those first days at Anfield was to be accepted. I walked into a dressing room full of trophy winners and I was desperate to show I could stand alongside them.
Virgil van Dijk will move to Anfield when he joins Liverpool for £75million on January 1
Mark Lawrenson was a club record transfer when he arrived at Anfield from Brighton in 1981
True, Liverpool have not won as much as they would have liked in recent seasons but that doesn’t mean Van Dijk will be thinking he can ease himself in. His team-mates will look at the fee and expect him to hit the ground running.
The pressure will come from the dressing room and the supporters but there is nothing wrong with that.
You should be under pressure at Liverpool because you are competing at the highest end of the game.
Lawrenson says Van Dijk will have to hit the ground running to justify his transfer fee
So what have Liverpool got for their money? I don’t see him as a leader in the mould of John Terry or Tony Adams but I do see an excellent defender, who is big and strong and good in the air. He will play the ball out from the back and the fans will love him.
He clearly has something about him, too. It takes character to turn down Manchester City and it proves why Jurgen Klopp was determined to stick to his guns.
If his arrival can lift the performances of those around him and improve results — the benefits of the investment will be seen straight away.