Virgil van Dijk can take Liverpool to “the next level”, says Jamie Redknapp, with a Premier League title bid on the cards in 2018-19.
The Reds have failed to put themselves in contention for the English top-flight crown this term, with defensive frailties holding them back early on.
A top-four challenge is now the best that they can hope for, but they have sought to bolt the back door with the record-breaking £75 million addition of Van Dijk.
Redknapp expects the Dutchman to become a talismanic presence at Anfield, with a new goalkeeper in the summer potentially being the final piece in Jurgen Klopp’s jigsaw.
The former Reds midfielder told Sky Sports on events at Liverpool: “They sold [Philippe] Coutinho to Barcelona for a huge fee, £146m, and have brought in Virgil van Dijk for £75m - a player they badly needed. Ultimately, they needed a centre-back more than they needed Coutinho.
“If they can get Van Dijk to the level they're hoping they can get him to and he can be the leader they need in that defence, then he can elevate them to the next level. And then, next season, they can look to compete with Manchester City.
“Given Liverpool's strength in attack and weaknesses at the back, it looks like it has been a great trade for them.
“The next position on Jurgen Klopp's list to address will be a goalkeeper - but I think that will have to wait until the summer.
“Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius are both good goalkeepers but you just have to look at Ederson at Manchester City to see what a difference a top goalkeeper can make to a team. Last season Claudio Bravo was shaky, nervous. But while Ederson makes the odd mistake, such as his misplaced kick last weekend, he's been brilliant for City.
“The problem Liverpool have is it isn't easy to find a keeper of that calibre. It's easier to scout an outfield player than a goalkeeper at times. So I expect them to wait until the summer before they make a move for that role.”
Klopp has already hinted that he will wait until the summer before further reinforcing his ranks, telling reporters amid links to Stoke City’s Jack Butland: “I will only mention one name. Everyone talks about him with us and that is Butland. I only saw the game [against Manchester United on Monday]. Fantastic goalkeeper, but was he perfect? No. He wasn’t in that game. But everyone says ‘still better than our boys’.
“It makes no real sense if he comes in and makes a mistake in his first game. Everyone then says: ‘We need another and another one and another one'. We have to cool down.
“It is not a case of ‘get somebody else’, it is get the right solution and the right solution is the one that we already have here.”