Southampton’s Dynamic Dutchman: Virgil van Dijk Stays
Southampton’s six foot four inches of Dutch defence is a comfortable addition to a strong squad this season. That’s right; Virgil van Dijk has expressed his contentedness at the club and signed on the dotted line. The 24-year-old ex-Celtic star has penned a six-year contract with Ronald Koeman’s Saints. Boasting an 83% pass accuracy and a trio of goals in 32 matches played this season, he’ll be leaving his boots in the changing room on a more permanent basis now.
Concentrating on strengthening the defensive line has been a top priority for Koeman during the club’s 2016/17 campaign; he has succeeded largely in this area, too. Not only has van Dijk joined, Cédric Soares has also been a newbie for the side and has demonstrated that Southampton clearly had a gap to plug prior to his arrival.
Retaining van Dijk is a fantastic move. It isn’t all about the statistics, though – he has been a great asset with real aerial presence during the games. Not only is he able to push against opposing attackers and quell threats as a centre-back, he is all but glad to charge up the field with his team members and see if he can contribute something upfront. As aforementioned, the three goals he has netted for his team this season have all been due to his tenacity with the ball, and ease in other positions. The young player clearly possesses a lot of drive, and definitely has height on his side – two of three goals have ricocheted off his left-hand boot, whilst one was the result of a fortuitous header. Van Dijk seems to have gelled well, as evidenced by how happy he is to get stuck into helping in other parts of the pitch. He does not have any assists to his name, though.
Since Ronald Koeman began his tenure, Southampton, once formerly known as a breeding ground for young talent emerging from their academy ranks, has become something of a Dutch-focused team. Many internationals from the Netherlands, or previous hotshots from the Eredivisie, have joined Saints and have really boosted the club’s credentials. Graziano Pellè, Dušan Tadić and Jordy Clasie were just a small handful before Virgil van Dijk arrived. And look at what the first two have achieved!
Koeman’s careful selection has really proven incredibly beneficial for the current structure at Southampton, so long may this continue. It’s certainly excellent that van Dijk is staying, for that reason, too. He has also been a smash hit with the supporters. He’s been voted for by the fans as their Player of the Month previously, showcasing their bestowed trust and faith.
I would argue that the magical recipe between new signings, their Dutch connections and the tactics of Ronald Koeman is really a huge basis for Southampton’s success between 2015 and now. Saints looked staggering and sharp with their rocket-fuelled attacking options last year, but conceded due to a misshapen defence at times, leaving wonder-keeper, Fraser Forster, out on a limb. The addition of van Dijk to the mix has positively helped this, but also relieved midfielders of some legwork between their post and the goal ahead. Southampton thrives on a less rigid, more inventive structure, so it’s absolutely paramount that they retain players willing to offer their services where required on the pitch. Although a centre-back must be fairly omnipresent anyway, van Dijk seems happy to go the extra mile. The camaraderie in the team is great, and it is boosted by the shared ethos of the dogged squad. So, it’s going to be gloriously beneficial having the number 17 stay.