Chelsea are preparing to compete with Liverpool for the signing of Virgil van Dijk and will offer £50 million for the Dutchman, according to The Times.
The Premier League champions are looking to make further additions to their current squad and they have been following the centre-back for a number of months. Antonio Conte has finally convinced the club to make a firm bid and they are confident that a deal could be reached before the start of the new top flight season.
Although Liverpool had been frontrunners for his signature, they annoyed Southampton with their approach directly to the player and that will help Chelsea’s cause. The South Coast outfit are going to be more willing to do business with the champions and that has provided the Blues with the hope that they can seal a deal for the centre-back.
Van Dijk would be a great fit for Conte’s 3-4-3 formation, as he is a dominant defender and comfortable on the ball. This would be a great signing and provide the Blues with further depth at centre-back.
What would this mean for the Chelsea squad?
There is no doubting the quality of Van Dijk. He has proven himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League and he is ready to make the step up to a higher level. It is somewhat surprising that he has yet to be sold this window, but Southampton know the value that he possesses and they are keen to get as much money as they can for the player.
Despite the quality that he does possess, it is difficult to see where he fits into the Chelsea team. If they do bid £50 million, they wouldn’t be eyeing him as a squad player. The Dutchman would be signed as a starter and that would mean one of their existing centre-backs would be pushed out of the side. Van Dijk prefers the left-side, which means that he would either have to be used as the left-sided centre-back or the one in the middle of the three.
This creates problems for David Luiz and Gary Cahill. Although he is the captain, it is more likely that the latter is the one to be replaced. He was a weakness at times last season and could be exploited in the Champions League. Van Dijk is a complete defender and would offer a more assured option on the left-side of the defence.
Another option would be to shift Cahill to the right-side and play Cesar Azpilicueta as the right wing-back rather than part of the three-man defence. This would provide the team with a better defender in that position as Victor Moses was targeted at times last season.
Chelsea needed to improve their squad this season as it wasn’t balanced for the 3-4-3 formation. Conte got away with it last season as they didn’t have European football to contend with, but that is no longer the case as they will be competing in the Champions League.
They may have already signed Antonio Rudiger, but another centre-back would provide the manager with options and squad depth. If that centre-back was to be Van Dijk, it would send a message to the rest of the league that the Blues remain a powerhouse in the transfer market and deliver a damaging blow to Liverpool. This would be a great deal for Chelsea and it will be interesting to see if the report is an accurate one.