International Soccer

6 potential Virgil van Dijk replacements at Liverpool

Whether or not Virgil van Dijk signs a new contract that will keep him at Liverpool beyond the end of the upcoming 2024/25 season, the towering Reds captain will shortly celebrate his 33rd birthday and time will dictate that he doesn’t have that much longer left at the top.

Van Dijk has been an invaluable servant to Liverpool ever since he became the club’s then record signing with a £75m transfer from Southampton in January 2018.

Within six months, he was playing in the Champions League final. A year later, he won it, and a year after that Liverpool ended a 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England.

Van Dijk will leave Liverpool as a legend whenever it happens – he isn’t concerned that he doesn’t yet have a contract with more than a season left on it. But while a farewell isn’t likely to happen for at least a year, the smart thing to do would be plan for the future now.

Here are six potential options who could replace Van Dijk, whose physical presence and leadership as much as his footballing ability have made him such an important player.

Joachim Andersen

Joachim Andersen is proven in the Premier League / Alex Davidson/GettyImages

Age: 27
Height: 1.92m
Current club: Crystal Palace
Contract: 2026

If Liverpool wanted another centre-back already proven in the Premier League, Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen might be considered low-hanging fruit. He comes with plenty of experience and was part of an Eagles team that ended 2023/24 in blistering form.

With England internationals usually priced at a premium, the Dane is also probably a far cheaper option than Palace centre-back partner Marc Guehi.

Armel Bella-Kotchap

Armel Bella-Kotchap is still on Southampton’s books / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Age: 22
Height: 1.90m
Current club: Southampton
Contract: 2026

Armel Bella-Kotchap was earning rave reviews in a struggling Southampton team last season, to the point where he was being linked with Bayern Munich. The young German ultimately stayed with the Saints, but went on join PSV Eindhoven on loan, rather than play in the Championship.

It looked as though he would be a starter until a shoulder injury derailed his campaign only a few games in, after which Bella-Kotchap couldn’t reclaim his place. Fully fit, his potential remains huge.

Lutsharel Geertruida

Lutsharel Geertruida can play in the middle or on the right / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Age: 23
Height: 1.84m
Current club: Feyenoord
Contract: 2025

One player already very well known to new Liverpool boss Arne Slot is Lutsharel Geertruida. He spent much of this season as a goalscoring right-back but has often played centrally throughout his career, particularly during Feyenoord’s Eredivisie-winning campaign in 2022/23.

Even at a relatively young age, the 23-year-old is already a leader, captaining Feyenoord regularly in recent months. He is also part of Netherlands’ Euro 2024 squad for this summer.

Leny Yoro

Leny Yoro is the next big thing / ANP/GettyImages

Age: 18
Height: 1.90m
Current club: Lille
Contract: 2025

After making a handful of first-team appearances in 2022/23, a 17-year-old Leny Yoro started Lille’s third Ligue 1 game of the season and hasn’t looked back. He finished celebrate his 18th birthday three months later and finished the campaign in Ligue 1’s Team of the Year.

There is likely to be no shortage of competitions from clubs smitten with both Yoro’s immedaite ability and his long-term potential, with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain heavily linked.

Edmond Tapsoba

Edmond Tapsoba is coming into his peak / ANP/GettyImages

Age: 25
Height: 1.94m
Current club: Bayer Leverkusen
Contract: 2028

For the readymade option who could anchor Liverpool’s defence for the next five or six years, Edmond Tapsoba has just enjoyed a career-best season as part of a Bayer Leverkusen side that was just one agonising game away from a treble and unbeaten campaign.

The Burkina Faso international was brought to Europe aged 18 and initially cut his teeth in Portugal, before being picked up Leverkusen two and a half years later and becoming an immediate regular.

Jonathan Tah

Jonathan Tah joined Bayer Leverkusen as a teenager / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Age: 28
Height: 1.95m
Current club: Bayer Leverkusen
Contract: 2025

Tapsoba’s Leverkusen teammate Jonathan Tah is the more affordable option if Liverpool decide they have to make their budget stretch further. The Germany international is three years older and will soon enter the final 12 months of his contract at the BayArena.

Tah has been with the club for nine years and winning the Bundesliga this season might be the perfect way to bow out and pursue a new challenge before it is too late.

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