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Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk plays down £75m fee after completing transfer

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk plays down £75m fee after completing transfer


The January transfer window is now open, giving sides the chance to boost their squads for the second half of the season.

Who is on the move, and will any of the Premier League's top clubs be busy? ESPN FC's club correspondents have a look ahead at what could be a pivotal month in the season. 


What's needed this month? It seems greedy to want to add to a squad that is so far ahead of everyone else in the Premier League, but City will want to, particularly if they are going to challenge for the Champions League. City started the season with only one recognised left-back in Benjamin Mendy, and the French international is estimated to be ruled out until around April. However, Fabian Delph has been a huge success as a backup, and Pep Guardiola appears to see centre-back as a more pressing need.

Likelihood of business being done: 8/10. Pep Guardiola wanted a new centre-back in the summer, and he was close to signing Jonny Evans from West Brom on transfer deadline day. His main concern was over his backups to first choice defenders John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, with doubts over the fitness reliability of Vincent Kompany and quality of Eliaquim Mangala. Neither player has successfully eased those concerns, and it's possible that Mangala could leave the Etihad in the transfer window to make way for a new arrival.

Pick a target: Southampton's Virgil van Dijk was among the centre-back options being considered, but with the Dutch international moving to Liverpool, City could now return for Evans. He has many qualities, which would suggest he would be a useful addition to Guardiola's squad. He's comfortable with the ball, has plenty of high-end experience from his time at Manchester United, will be eligible to play in the Champions League and will also qualify as a homegrown player. However, the Northern Ireland international turns 30 on Wednesday, and City won't want to spend too heavily on a player who is unlikely to have any resale value.

Predict a move: Mesut Ozil to Manchester United. Jose Mourinho has indicated that he is not satisfied with the depth of his squad and lacks creativity. Ozil is someone he knows from Real Madrid, and with the German out of contract at the end of the season, a deal could suit both Arsenal and United.


What's needed this month? Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are doing well enough that buying a new left-back can wait. But Jose Mourinho wanted Ivan Perisic in the summer, a right-sided wide player, and he will probably think his squad is still missing that type of attacker. He could also do with a No.10 he trusts. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has fallen down the pecking order, and Juan Mata plays on the right. Jesse Lingard has done well in the past month, but he is not in the mould of Ozil or Wesley Sneijder -- two players who shone for Mourinho in previous jobs,

Likelihood of business being done: 5/10. United call the January window an "opportunistic market," meaning that, while they are not planning to buy, they are ready to take advantage of a situation that may present itself. They will not buy for the sake of it, but if they can get a summer target in at a reasonable price, they are prepared to do it. Last January, United sold Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin, and there is a chance, albeit quite slim, that fringe players Daley Blind or Matteo Darmian could leave if they ask for a move.

Pick a target: Ozil's contract situation will be interesting to United. He's a player Mourinho knows well, and United need a No.10. Arsene Wenger has insisted Ozil won't leave in January, but if that stance softens and Arsenal are prepared to listen to bids of around £20 million, there is a chance it could happen. It is still more likely that Ozil leaves for free at the end of the season.

Predict a move: Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City. And it should worry United that a team already streets ahead in the Premier League is looking to strengthen.


What's needed this month? Antonio Conte wants to improve his Chelsea squad "in the numerical aspect," so more depth is the order of the day. The most pressing need is a natural alternative for Marcos Alonso at left wing-back, but an established central striker and wide forward would also allow Michy Batshuayi and Charly Musonda to leave on loan in search of regular football.

Likelihood of business being done: 8/10. A troubled summer laid the foundations for Chelsea's setbacks and Conte's frustration this season. The club hierarchy know they must explore all options in the winter market, and if there is a deal to be made, Marina Granovskaia has proved better than most at getting it done. David Luiz's future remains a question mark after his clash with Conte, but the Italian will not agree to any significant departures unless replacements are secured first.

Pick a target: It's no secret that Conte desperately wanted Chelsea to sign Alex Sandro last summer. Juventus refused to countenance a sale then, but the Brazilian has struggled to find his best form since, and there have been suggestions that a deal could be possible in January. The reported asking price of around £52m, however, seems steep when Alonso is performing well as first choice.

Predict a move: Now that Liverpool have taken Van Dijk off the market, Manchester City will have to look elsewhere if Guardiola wants to strengthen his centre-back options in the January window. West Brom captain Evans emerged as a target in the final days before last summer's deadline, and it is not difficult to imagine him proving to be a reasonably priced and very gettable prize for the runaway Premier League leaders this time around.


What's needed this month? A new centre-half has been required at Anfield for some time now, but Liverpool already addressed that need with the acquisition of Van Dijk prior to the window even opening. Focusing on other areas, if Liverpool are to win their first Premier League title anytime soon, then they need to assess their goalkeeping situation. And despite boasting one of the best frontlines in Europe, Jurgen Klopp attempted to bolster it in the summer with Thomas Lemar, suggesting the Reds boss wants more match-winners on his books.

Likelihood of business being done: 5/10 (after Van Dijk). As seen in the summer, Klopp has his eyes fixed on his prime targets and often won't settle for second best in alternatives. Despite attempts to do more, Van Dijk will become the German's first January signing as Liverpool manager, having found signing elite players midway through a season to be difficult task. Expect to see plenty of players -- possibly Danny Ings, Ben Woodburn and Marko Grujic included -- head out on loan. 

Pick a target: Liverpool made a late push, along with Arsenal, to sign Monaco's Lemar last summer. The line from Monaco's hierarchy recently has been that the French international will not be departing in January but could potentially leave in the summer. Lemar hasn't hit the same heights as last season, scoring just twice in 2017-18 so far. However, a promising World Cup campaign for the 21-year-old may increase his price tag, making a summer move more likely.

Predict a move: Confirmation of Emre Can's move to Juventus next summer. In January, Can will be able to agree to a deal in principle to join a European club, with his Liverpool contract expiring at the end of the season. The Italian champions have courted the midfielder for a while now, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before the topic of his future is finally settled.


What's needed this month? If Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama return from injury unscathed, Spurs don't need much in the January window. They could still do with a speedy wing-forward in the Wilfried Zaha mould, while a more technical version of Moussa Sissoko would add quality to the midfield. Fernando Llorente has not impressed as Harry Kane's deputy, but they are likely to persist with the Spaniard until the summer. Spurs need to buy British, as they have maxed out their foreign player quota in the Champions League.

Likelihood of business being done: 3/10. Spurs have not made a January signing since Dele Alli (who was immediately loaned back to MK Dons) in 2015, and Mauricio Pochettino has already said they are likely to have another quiet winter window. However, the Spurs manager did suggest that the club could try to steal a march on their richer rivals by agreeing to more deals like Alli's for next summer, while chairman Daniel Levy is always in the market for a bargain. Josh Onomah and Cameron Carter-Vickers may be recalled from loans to boost the squad. It's unlikely they will sell anyone, although Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is expected to leave on loan.

Pick a target: Ross Barkley. Remember him? Pochettino is a long-term admirer of the Everton midfielder, who has been injured all season, and it is believed Barkley is interested in working with the Argentine. Spurs could try to sign Barkley on a pre-contract agreement or for a cut-price fee in January, but they will surely face competition from Chelsea, who agreed to a deal with the Toffees on transfer deadline day in August, only for Barkley to reject the move. At this stage, it may depend on which club can better guarantee him minutes and boost his World Cup hopes. Wanyama's injury woes and Mousa Dembele's continued creaking mean Spurs could offer him plenty of playing time.

Predict a move: Zaha to Manchester City. They can start doing what Chelsea used to do and buy players that they don't need just to stop their rivals from signing them.


What's needed this month? Clarity. Arsenal need to decide who is staying and who is leaving as soon as possible, then find replacements if necessary. If Ozil and Sanchez both see out their contracts, it's hard to see Wenger spending big until the summer. A holding midfielder remains the team's biggest need, but that hasn't been addressed in years and probably won't be now.

Likelihood of business being done: 7/10. Mathieu Debuchy is the most likely departure, while you can't rule out either Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott exploring their options.

Pick a target: Arsenal could go back for Lemar but are unlikely to match the £90 million bid they made this summer, making a deal improbable. Julian Draxler is a more likely target as Paris Saint-Germain could be willing to offload him.

Predict a move: Mathieu Debuchy finally finds a buyer and leaves Arsenal.


What's needed this month? Despite spending more than £200m during the brief Ronald Koeman tenure, Everton remain in possession of a terribly unbalanced squad that still needs significant fine-tuning. Leighton Baines is the only recognised left-back, and his recent trend for injuries makes additional cover imperative, while it is clear on a weekly basis that this team requires a quality striker to spearhead the team.

Likelihood of business being done: 9/10. While there is always a slight chance that events conspire against your team and no business is done, it seems implausible that Everton will not add to the squad this window. As for outgoings, Everton should look to trim down an overcrowded midfield.

Pick a target: Olivier Giroud was linked throughout the summer, and Koeman thought he had his man at one stage before the player opted to stay at Arsenal. It remains to be seen if Everton revisit their pursuit this time around, but it is likely Sam Allardyce will be looking at strikers of that ilk.

Predict a move: Continually linked with a move throughout his time at the club, it is rather surprising that Kevin Mirallas has lasted this long at Everton. But with the winger starting just two league games all season and struggling for consistency these past few seasons, this upcoming transfer window seems the right time for a parting of ways.

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Arsene Wenger celebrated his 811th Premier League game in charge of Arsenal on New Year's Eve as the Gunners drew 1-1 at West Brom.

He surpassed another of the game's greats as Sir Alex Ferguson managed 810 games in the Premier League at Manchester United -- though the Scot also took charge of 225 games in the old First Division. So Arsene's got some way to go to match that.

Here are 10 other managers who have also made a habit of sticking around.

Eddie Howe - Bournemouth, five years

Eddie Howe almost certainly wishes he never left Bournemouth. He first joined the club as a player way back in 1994, made over 200 appearances for them and returned after short spells at Portsmouth and Swindon, fans having raised money to buy him back. He took over as manager in 2008, and kept Bournemouth in the Football League despite a 17-point penalty after failing to exit administration. That would be enough to make him a hero, but he then took them up to League One before leaving for an 18-month spell at Burnley. After returning in 2012, he achieved miracles by taking them to the Championship, then the Premier League, then comfortable safety there. If there was ever one man bigger than a club, it's Howe.

Neal Ardley - Wimbledon, five years

A link to the past will always mean something a little extra to Wimbledon fans. That this link has turned out to be an extremely good manager for them is a delightful bonus. Neal Ardley made over 250 appearance for Wimbledon as a player, joining in 1991 when they were in the old First Division. He returned to the "phoenix" club in 2012, after they had clambered their way throughout the lower reaches of English football to reach League Two. He was the man who then guided them to League One, beating Plymouth in the playoff final: the next task is to finish above MK Dons, who they trailed by four points last season.

Gareth Ainsworth - Wycombe Wanderers, five years

Gareth Ainsworth is 44 years of age, and retired as a player in 2013. But it perhaps speaks to his commitment as Wycombe manager that, after an injury crisis last year, he re-registered himself and made a substitute appearance in the EFL Trophy, and has occasionally popped up on the bench, when required, since. The club were in dire danger of relegation when he arrived in 2012, but he guided them to League Two safety and in 2014-15 they finished fourth, losing the playoff final to Southend on penalties.

Jim Bentley - Morecambe, six years

Jim Bentley means plenty to the Morecambe fans. He joined the club as a player, a big, hulking centre-back in his day, back in 2002, and after Sammy McIlroy left in 2011, Bentley was appointed as player-manager. He hung up his boots a year later, and since then has guided the Shrimps to safety in League Two, the highest level they've ever played at, every season, despite a degree of turmoil in their ownership situation. Last season, Bentley was sent to the stands during a game against Cheltenham, and was subsequently fined £1,000 by the FA, but in recognition of the job Bentley was doing (Morecambe were under a transfer embargo after the PFA helped pay players' wages), fans had a whip-round and paid his penalty. He was, understandably, pretty moved by the gesture. 

Current longest-serving in England, behind Arsene Wenger
Paul Tisdale - Exeter, 11 years

Occasionally, and rather unfairly, more known for his natty dress sense than his achievements as a manager, Paul Tisdale is part of the furniture at the other St James Park. He arrived at the club in 2006, after the Bath University team under his control became the first collegiate outfit to reach the first round of the FA Cup. He took them into the Football League in his second full season then achieved a double promotion after finishing second in League Two. However they were relegated in 2012, and despite reaching the playoff final last season, they remain in the fourth tier. Still, despite a number of chances to leave, Tisdale has stayed. "It's not so much how long either myself or Arsene has been employed, it's more how little time others have," he told Sky Sports earlier this year.

Ignacio Querada - Spain women, 27 years

A winger in the Real Madrid system as a youngster, Ignacio Querada was appointed as the Spanish women's team manager in 1988 and stayed until his resignation in 2015. But unlike most of the names on this list, his was not a story of uncomplicated, outstanding success: indeed, you could argue his longevity was down to complacency and neglect at the top, rather than anything else. While they won his first competitive game in charge 17-0, Spain didn't qualify for a World Cup under Querada until 2015, and their performance there was so bad that all 23 players in the squad called for him to be sacked after they were knocked out, in the first round, having gained only a point. "We believe an era has come to an end and we need a change," they said in a statement, also criticising their "inadequate" preparation for the tournament. "This generation has the talent and commitment to have gone a great deal further."

Ronnie McFall - Portadown, 30 years

Portadown had never won the league before Ronnie McFall was appointed manager in 1986, six weeks after Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at Manchester United. But in 1990 they finished top of the table for the first of four times under McFall, also winning the Northern Irish double in 1995-96. A hometown boy, he had two spells there as a player, as well as representing the town's cricket and rugby teams as a youngster. McFall had planned to step down at the end of the 2015-16 season, but resigned halfway through the campaign after a shock cup defeat, quoting the Shawshank Redemption when asked about his future plans. "You get busy living or you get busy dying and I'm going to get busy living," he said.

Bill Struth - Rangers, 34 years

For a good portion of the time Willie Maley led Celtic, across Glasgow Bill Struth was his rival as Rangers manager. Despite taking charge of his team for almost a decade less, Struth won 18 titles to Maley's 16, claiming 73 trophies in all at an impressive lick of around two per season. He won 14 of those titles in 19 years before the Second World War, so if the league hadn't been suspended when the conflict began, his tally would have been even more impressive. In 1952 he had part of his leg amputated after contracting gangrene, but still won the league that season and continued for another two years. He was vice-chairman for two years after he finally retired in 1954.

Willie Maley - Celtic, 43 years

While Jock Stein is regarded as Celtic's greatest manager, quite rightly, another man took charge of them for over twice as many games, won more league titles and more trophies in general. Appointed in 1897, Willie Maley was Celtic's first manager (before this the team had been selected by a committee), and stayed there until 1940, winning over 1,000 games, collecting 16 league titles and in 1917 set the club record 62 games unbeaten that Brendan Rodgers's side has only just beaten. A stubborn autocrat, Maley wouldn't take training sessions and watched games from the stands, but his methods clearly worked: Maley, as much as Stein, built Celtic into the giant they became.

Guy Roux - Auxerre, 44 years

This is cheating very slightly, because Roux had short breaks from being Auxerre manager in 1962 (when he had to do national service, alongside former French prime minister Lionel Jospin) and 2000 (an ill-advised spell as general manager), but he spent 44 years building a club from a tiny footballing hamlet in the amateur regional leagues, to league champions and home to some of France's greatest players. Roux essentially got the job because he asked for the lowest salary of all the applicants, but over the years he built Auxerre in his own image, taking them to the top flight, won the title in 1996 and threw in four Coupes de France too.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk has played down the significance of the world-record fee for a defender that was paid to Southampton after officially completing his move to Anfield.

The 26-year-old's switch from the Saints was agreed last week, but with the January transfer window now open his deal -- which sources have told ESPN FC is worth £75 million, the highest fee ever paid for a defender -- is now sealed.

The Netherlands international told Liverpool's official website: "With the history at the club and everything around it -- even the training ground and stuff -- it is just a perfect, perfect match for me, and for my family as well."

Van Dijk, who has signed what Liverpool have said is a "long-term contract" at Anfield, is not concerned about his price tag weighing heavy.

The transfer fee eclipses the £54m spent by Manchester City to sign England full-back Kyle Walker from Tottenham Hotspur last summer.

"Obviously there is a lot of money being paid, but I can't do anything about that money, I can't do anything about the price -- nobody can," Van Dijk added.

"It's only the market. The only thing I can do is just work hard, do the good things and be 100 percent every day. That's what I definitely want to do -- and I am going to do.

"I am happy to be here and I can't wait to get started. I think the most important thing is the size of the club, the culture of the club, the players, the manager and obviously the fans, who make the club this special.

"I think this is the right time for me to be here and to develop all sorts of aspects of my game. I am looking forward to doing that, that's the main thing."

In order to reach that ambition of improving, Van Dijk believes he is working under the right man in Jurgen Klopp.

The former Groningen and Celtic defender, who will wear the No. 4 shirt at Liverpool, said: "Since he's come in, I think he has made a lot of progress until now and I think it is only hopefully going to get better and better. Hopefully I can contribute to that as well and keep working hard.

"Everybody obviously from a Liverpool perspective knows how he is; how lively he is, how he can make players better and give them confidence as well.

"It just suits me as well. I think he can make me a better player and I am just looking forward to working with him."

Van Dijk is unavailable for Liverpool's New Year's Day game at Burnley as his registration will not be concluded in time.