How Liverpool could line up this season with a returning Van Dijk

Martin Macdonald
Man Utd signed Lindelof over Van Dijk, claims former teammate

Liverpool fans received some terrific news this week after reports emerged that Virgil van Dijk is on the cusp of a return to action.

The talismanic Dutchman missed the majority of the 2020/21 season after a knee injury suffered in the Merseyside Derby following a collision with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Jurgen Klopp was forced to put together a patched up defence for most of the campaign as in addition to Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip were also missing for long periods.

Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips were given plenty of minutes, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were forced to play centre-back, while Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak were recruited in the January transfer window.

Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip will all return soon, but Klopp is taking no chances of a similar weakness emerging in defence this upcoming season as Liverpool have purchased promising centre-back Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig for £36 million.

No matter who Liverpool sign this season, however, the most important thing for the Reds will be the return of Van Dijk, who has became arguably the club's most important player since his big-money move from Southampton in January of 2018.

The Premier League side have an upcoming friendly against Hertha Berlin on Thursday, and according to Klopp, we could see Van Dijk in some capacity.

"I hope, I am not sure, that there is the opportunity that Virgil could play a few minutes," the German told the official club website.

I hope, I am not sure, that there is the opportunity that Virgil could play a few minutes

"He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring [him in], but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we will see.

"If you see the games now as part of their rehab training, that makes sense.

"Joey [Gomez] is very close. There is no race between the two of them; they had different injuries and stuff like this, but [he is] very close.

"If Virgil can play now 20 then probably Joey can in the game after. We will see. In training they both look really good."

How Liverpool will line up with Van Dijk back

So, with Georginio Wijnaldum away, Konate signed, and Van Dijk returning, how will Liverpool line up next season?

How Liverpool could line up next season with Ibrahima Konate

How Liverpool could line up next season with Ibrahima Konate

Alisson will naturally start in goal next season, with the usual full-backs of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson also featuring.

For 2021/22 Liverpool will have a completely new central defensive pairing as Van Dijk hasn’t played all season, while Konate should come in to partner him.

However, Gomez should not be ruled out due to Konate’s arrival as the Englishman will still have a massive part to play for the club moving forward, though he will also provide some much-needed cover for Alexander-Arnold.

Matip will act as the fourth-choice centre-back, with the futures of Williams and Phillips up in the air.

With Wijnaldum away to Paris Saint-Germain following the expiration of his contract that will leave the club light in central midfield.

They will likely dive into the transfer market to find a replacement for the Dutchman, but from the players already there; Henderson, Thiago, and Fabinho seem the most likely trio, with Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also involved.

In attack, it seems a matter of time before Diogo Jota permanently puts Roberto Firmino out the team to play alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.