Frank Lampard believes Chelsea should pay Southampton’s lavish asking price to sign defender Virgil van Dijk, as he suggests the Dutchman could fill the void left by the departure of John Terry from Chelsea.
Speaking exclusively to Yahoo Sport, Lampard suggested Van Dijk’s £70m price tag has been inflated in what he described as a ‘crazy’ transfer market, but he has urged the Stamford Bridge decision makers to smash Chelsea’s transfer record for a second summer in succession with a move to sign Van Dijk.
“If you are looking around for a centre-back, Van Dijk is probably the best there is out there at the moment with Premier League experience and Chelsea should try and get him,” BT Sport pundit Lampard told us.
“I was watching some video clips of him a few weeks back and when you study him, he is a class act. He is powerful in the air, comfortable on the ball, he can command a defence…he has it all. John Terry had that presence in the Chelsea defence for a long time and it is hard to find players like that, but Van Dijk has something about him.
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“It is not just Chelsea who will want him, it is all the top clubs in the Premier League. He has style and class about him, a physical presence, he is a top player.
“It is often the out and out striker who scores the goals and the dominant centre-half that are the two big positions in a team and they are hard to get. It means you have to pay over the odds for them because they are not easy to find.
“He would work for any team in the Premier League. The money being spoken about for him may be high, but we have to accept that the game has gone this way and the figures being talked about now are crazy.
“What seemed crazy figures last summer, don’t look crazy now and I just don’t know how much longer the Premier League can go on like this, but you have to pay these prices to get players right now.”
Yahoo Sport broke the story on Monday suggesting Southampton would not consider selling Van Dijk to Liverpool in this transfer window, even though the player and his agent are pushing hard for a deal to be completed with the Anfield club.
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That may open the door for his move to Chelsea, with Van Dijk currently training with the Southampton youth team after he handed in a transfer request last week and insisted he wanted to leave just 12 months after signing a six-year contract with the club.
Southampton insist publicly they are still determined to hang on to Van Dijk, but that stance may be shifted if a big-money offer is lodged for the player whose behaviour over the last few weeks has shattered his reputation with the club.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would welcome Van Dijks arrival after going public in his pleas for the club for the sign star names in the final two weeks of the transfer window, with the signing of a high profile target like Van Dijk certain to lift a club that has lost its momentum after last season’s Premier League title win.
After defeat against Burnley in their Premier League opener on Saturday, Chelsea head into Sunday’s crunch clash against Tottenham without the suspended duo of Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas, with Eden Hazard, new arrival Tiemoue Bakayoko and exiled striker Diego Costa all unavailable.
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