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Virgil van Dijk and his transfer to Liverpool

Liverpool is considered to be a club with one of the best transfer policy in the world. They regularly use their analytics team to analyze weaknesses and improve them effectively.

Photo: David Andersson/imagestock.cz

A prime example of this is the transfer of Virgil van Dijk, who has reinforced the defensive and helped the team in their troubled area between defensive and midfield lines, where they were losing a lot of balls and conceding goals.

In the first half of the 2017/2018 season, they used Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip as a center back, and especially the latter was not aggressive enough and was not able to defend outside his box. If a team has a central defender with this ability, they can relieve midfielders of their defensive duties.

The scouting team, therefore, searched for the player with a great understanding of the game (and aggressiveness). And they found Virgil van Dijk - center back who can play high on the pitch and collect a high amount of balls here.

The Dutch defender has 1.5 tackles per match and intercepts slightly over 9 opponents' passes, which is one of the highest numbers in England. In the 2018/2019 season even the second best. The interceptions model usually shows a high understanding of the game and its anticipation.

His teammate, Joel Matip, makes 1.7 tackles per match, but only intercepts 6.7 passes.

# of balls won by Dijk: 10,5
# of balls won by Matip: 8.4

With the arrival of Van Dijk, Liverpool is winning 2.1 balls more per match, which is a 22.22% increase.

Dijk also brings more quality in challenges because he is one of the strongest center backs in Europe. He is winning 77% of his challenges and aerial duels which makes him the best defender in the Premier League in terms of headers and third best center back in challenges succession. Compared to Matip, Liverpool improved 8% in the air and 11% on the ground.

  With Matip (25 matches) With Van Dijk (15 matches)
xG against / match 0,94 0,54
Goals against / match 1,16 0,6
Before   After
before arrow after

In the first 15 games with Van Dijk in the line-up, Liverpool allowed opponents to score less both expected and real goals. They also made it to the Champions League finals where they lost to Real Madrid.

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