Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp has insisted that the January arrival of Virgil van Dijk will leave the Reds 'pretty much guaranteed' of a top four place this season, despite the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.
The £75m Dutch defender made a match winning debut at Anfield, heading in Liverpool's winner as they beat Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup last Friday, but it is in his defensive role that Redknapp feels van Dijk will make the difference.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Redknapp explained: "They have brought in a defender and if you look at where Liverpool's problems have been over the last few years, it has been defensively.
"I have said it from day one, he is the sort of player that they need. It gives them a defensive base they have not had. They need a leader and I have been saying it for a while."
Comparing van Dijk to Liverpool's current central defensive options, Redknapp went on to say: "Defensively they have never had anyone - [Ragnar] Klavan, [Joel] Matip, [Dejan] Lovren - none of them are that standout centre-back that you look at and who is going to lead from the back, going to be a good talker."
Redknapp concluded by claiming that van Dijk's arrival more than offsets the loss of Coutinho in the battle for a top four place, explaining: "With [Philippe] Coutinho (leaving), there is an argument that might not have got you into the top four. As good as he is, defensively they have had a problem for a long time now and I think Van Dijk pretty much guarantees you top four."
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Van Dijk could be in line for his league debut for his new club when they host league leaders Manchester City on Sunday.