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Arsenal have become the latest top Premier League club linked with a move for Southampton star Virgil van Dijk, joining Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton on the list of suitors.
According to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, the Blues remain the favourites to land the Dutchman but Gunners manager Arsene Wenger wants to “hijack” the move.
Per the report, Wenger’s experiment with a back three against Middlesbrough on Monday was not a one-time thing, as the Frenchman is open to using the hip formation more often. For that, he’ll need another quality centre-back, and Arsenal have already inquired about Van Dijk.
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The former Celtic man is one of the hottest names on the transfer market after impressing on the south coast. The 25-year-old’s strong form has led to persistent transfer rumours, with Chelsea and Manchester City linked most often.
Liverpool have been mentioned quite a lot of late, and Reds blogger Leanne Prescott welcomed the rumours:
Leanne Prescott @_lfcleanne
Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita would be a terrific way to start the summer transfer window. Would seriously improve our side.
4/14/2017, 7:19:18 PM
Van Dijk is blessed with size, athleticism and solid vision—traits he’s put to good use for Saints. He feels comfortable with the ball at his feet and can be a force in the air, and he rarely gets rattled.
His positioning has gotten consistently better over the past three years, and it is at the level where he often doesn’t even have to make the tackle. Here’s a look at some of his highlights during international duty:
Van Dijk is the type of quality, Premier League-proven player Arsenal should target. The Gunners could use a defensive upgrade, as Laurent Koscielny has regressed tremendously in the past 18 months and Per Mertesacker has fallen out of favour.
Shkodran Mustafi is a great option in defence, and Gabriel Paulista has shown flashes. There’s young talent waiting in the wings, but Van Dijk would be a plug-and-play star who would instantly improve the defence dramatically.
The three-man back line has gained popularity in recent seasons, with plenty of Italian clubs finding success using some variant. Chelsea have used a back three almost exclusively of late, and both City and Manchester United have experimented with similar formations this season.
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Wenger has been a firm believer in the 4-2-3-1 for years, but the 3-4-2-1 he used against Middlesbrough brought a stability to a defence that has been sorely lacking this season.
While Arsenal aren’t among the favourites to land Van Dijk―Chelsea and City appear to be ahead in the queue―expect the Gunners to keep their eye out for defensive reinforcements during the summer.