Center back sighting! It might not have be the Dutch defender many would’ve hoped for, but reports out of Italy have Lazio’s Stefan de Vrij looking less and less likely to resign with the Rome-based club before his contract runs out next summer. In a contract impasse coincidentally similar to Liverpool’s own struggles in getting Emre Can to put pen to paper, the hold up between de Vrij and the Lazio chiefs is also reportedly the issue of how high—and consequently prohibitive—the negotiated release clause should be to protect the club’s investment in the form of increased wages.
The Sports Witness claims to have sources that have put the club’s release clause proposal between €40m and €45m, while the player’s camp are insisting that the bar go as low as €20m, a figure that would have many a flush Premier League club licking their chops. Such a stance has naturally led to resurfaced speculation linking the 25-year-old to Anfield following serious talks between the two clubs in the wreckage of a botched move for Virgil Van Dijk at the end of the summer window. However, once and future admirers, Manchester United and Chelsea are also said to be circling the stalwart center back and Jürgen Klopp will be sure to face stiff competition were he to return for the Dutchman in January.
It is entirely possible, however, that moving for de Vrij in the winter window will not preclude a play for his much-desired after countryman currently plying his trade under duress at Southampton. As a converted midfielder comfortable in possession, the former Feyenoord man would represent far more of a like-for-like deputy for a Van Dijk-Joël Matip (say it again for the people in the back) partnership than starter Dejan Lovren, while also helping to mercifully phase out the prospect of Ragnar Klavan as a regularly contributing player in the current four-man center back rotation.
However, much like Liverpool with Can, one can only speculate as to whether de Vrij’s current employers will blink first come January and decide that it would be better to gain even a small financial return on their €7m investment rather than allowing a player to walk for free in the summer. Here’s to Double Dutch-ing in the January snow.