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Your Transfer Rumor is Lukewarm: What Did Van Dijk Say About Midfielders?

Don’t get too excited, context is everything

Virgil van Dijk in action during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield on August 27, 2022 in Liverpool, England.
Virgil van Dijk in action during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield on August 27, 2022 in Liverpool, England.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Multiple outlets were reporting over the weekend that Virgil Van Dijk was urging for more midfield signings following Liverpool’s demolition of Bournemouth on Saturday, and many readers reported their surprise and pleasure that the Dutch captain would be so direct about transfer business.

Problem is that he wasn’t.

As with a lot of circulated “stories” aimed at capturing readers’ attention on hot issues, the quotation from Van Dijk was presented outside of its original context, which made it seem like he aggressively joined the “will they-won’t they” midfield signing debate. But let’s take a look.

What was reported?

Well, the headlines (and individual tweets) all included the phrase “we need a lot of midfielders,” which the center back definitely did say. The context, however, was not that Van Dijk was calling on Liverpool’s hierarchy to make more signings.

Instead, he was responding to a direct question. Following the great showing by Liverpool young stars Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho, both of whom scored against Bournemouth, journalists asked Van Dijk if he worried that a potential new signing would harm the youngsters’ chances at making it in Liverpool’s midfield.

In response to this, Van Dijk emphasized the need for rotation given the huge amount of games the Reds play in a given season, saying:

I don’t think they [Elliott and Carvalho] will stop progressing [should we sign someone new]. If you look at the games we play, the amount of games we play, we need a lot of midfielders.

Midfielders are the engine of our team. They win so many balls for us. We need a lot of midfielders. You see the games we play, we also rotate a lot in midfield, apart from Fab[inho] I think. We need everyone.

I’m very impressed with both. I think Harvey [was breaking into the side] before his injury already. Now he’s showing the same stuff as before in my opinion. I was impressed with Fabio as well. I said it I think in pre-season, obviously I didn’t know him before, but I think he can be really, really good for us and as a club as well.

You need maturity at times, especially when things aren’t going well like the last couple of weeks. These guys have the right mentality that we need. They showed it today, I think they showed it against United also.

Harvey was good in my opinion. Fabio came on and played very well too. They will have good moments and they will also have moments they have to learn from. That’s how football works. We’re not robots, we’re not perfect and everyone expecting that we are.

So what does all this mean about transfers?

Well, a lot of nothing, really. It’s likely Liverpool are looking for a midfielder or two, which we could gather from other comments over the past week or so from the likes of Jürgen Klopp and others.

We might assume that the Reds are unlikely to take a risk on a midfielder not deemed a perfect fit for the side now when a better option might become available in the future winter or summer windows, even if this is a “risk,” per Melissa Reddy. (If you want to read something that is actually about Liverpool in the transfer market, Reddy’s article linked there is a great place to look.)

All this uproar over Van Dijk’s “admission,” as it was framed by some media outlets, feels like a storm in a teacup, and is not really telling about what Liverpool will or won’t do in the market.

The main thing: Elliott and Carvalho are exciting, and we shouldn’t worry about them being overshadowed if someone new comes in.

The other take-away: Always be sure to read full comments in context, rather than taking extracted bits at face value.

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