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Can Van Dijk Solve Manchester City’s Defensive Problems?

Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk has been the subject of a host of transfer rumours ahead of the January transfer window with speculations linking him with Manchester City and Chelsea amongst others.

City, though, are said to be the front-runners for the Netherland international’s signature with reports suggesting Guardiola’s side are set to table a £50m bid for Van Dijk.

Van Dijk joined Southampton in 2013 after a trophy-laden spell with Celtic – he was a key player for the Scottish outfit, but he’s grown into a more prominent role since signing for the Saints.

The Dutchman was named as Southampton’s player of the season last term for his sensational showings as he shored up the Saints’ defence in emphatic fashion.

Having proven his worth for Southampton in the previous season as well as the current one, it’s fair to say Van Dijk would be a perfect addition to City’s backline seeing as the team’s back four has been maligned for their below-par showings in recent times.

Vincent Kompany’s fitness is still in massive doubt with the Belgium international’s career at Manchester City seemingly coming to an end, John Stones has been making errors all season long which have attracted a host of critics and Otamendi’s inconsistency has seen Manchester City lose some crucial points – his performance in the 3-1 loss to Chelsea serves as a testament to his inconsistency.

With City’s current group of Centre-halves seemingly incapable of maintaining a sturdy defensive set-up and thwarting incoming attacks, It is clear to see why Virgil Van Dijk has been touted as City’s main transfer target. He’s reportedly got a £50m price tag, but surely that won’t deter Guardiola’s ambitions.

Van Dijk’s attributes are well suited to Guardiola’s brand of football. The 25-year-old is technically proficient; he’s got a great passing ability and he’s also a threat from set-pieces. And despite all his attacking qualities, he’s still a competent defender.

The former Celtic man has earned his place in the Dutch national team as he’s been capped 12 times in his short spell with the Oranje. His abilities on and off the ball have seen him climb up the pecking order regarding the Netherlands’ defensive options.

Why City Need Van Dijk

virgil van dijk southampton

Rewind to the start of the season; Manchester City had just acquired John Stones with a view to helping Pep Guardiola’s philosophy succeed. Sure, Stones has proven he’s got the potential to be the Centre-back the Spanish tactician wants, but at the moment, he just isn’t reliable enough.

That’s where Van Dijk comes in. The Southampton skipper has the attributes required to play the ball out from the defence; his transitional play is also something Man City needs in a bid to establish a real connection between the defenders and the rest of the team.

But regarding City’s shambolic defence that can boast of no more than three clean sheets in the league this term, Van Dijk can introduce the right balance of aggression and mental strength. His ability to anticipate pieces of play in high octane situations will serve City well; and above all, he could be a mini-on-pitch mentor for the young John Stones who evidently needs some guidance from a more experienced Centre-back.

A defensive pairing of Stones and Van Dijk would pay dividends. Both players are ball-playing defenders, and despite the fact that the latter is more of a defensive force than the former, they’ll be able to cover each other’s weaknesses and improve the overall quality of City’s back four.


Southampton might need to cash in on Van Dijk in January. At the moment, he’s worth £50m or thereabouts, but as the season progresses, Southampton could experience a dip in form which would then see the Netherland international’s performances inadvertently drop as well.

That sort of occurrence would result in a slight decrease of his market value, thus, allowing him to leave Southampton for a relatively cheaper price.

Guardiola usually doesn’t do business during the January transfer window, but with City’s defence on the wane and the team in dire need of a sturdy backline, drastic times call for drastic measures, and he could very well sign Van Dijk who is likely to be the panacea to the Manchester outfit’s defensive problems.

About the Author Phillip Ekuwem

Phillip is a football writer with an immense love and passion for the beautiful game. He's well versed in European football as he enjoys watching the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga and the Serie A.

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