Opinion

How Van Dijk, Alisson completed Klopp's Liverpool masterpiece

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Liverpool's Premier League triumph that erased 30 years of domestic hurt can be traced to a double master stroke by manager Jurgen Klopp in the first half of 2018.

The Reds have secured their 19th English championship with so many games to spare they run the risk of getting bored to death by the time this fractured season comes to an end.

Liverpool thoroughly deserve the title because they were the strongest, finest and most positive side in their quest for a major trophy that has eluded them since Kenny Dalglish's team prevailed over Aston Villa in 1989-90.

Liverpool have assembled a formidable attack comprising Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane that has scored an average of more than two goals a match this season.

The front three are backed by a super-efficient midfield led by influential captain Jordan Henderson and two outstanding overlapping fullbacks in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

Klopp, who joined the club in 2015 after leading Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Champions League final, has managed to build a strong team that could compete strongly on both the home and European fronts.

But to do so with regularity he knew he had to tighten his defensive set-up, particularly in the areas of goalkeeper and centre-back. In 2018 he got what he was looking for.

In January he snared the prize signature of Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for an equivalent of $135m and six months later he forked out $121m for Roma's Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

These two internationals would become the icing on the cake for Klopp and his merry men.

Van Dijk was a huge improvement over Mamadou Sakho and made the Reds' rearguard a better organised unit with his towering presence and immaculate positional play while Alisson's consistency and ability with his feet gave the back line far more confidence than his erratic predecessor Loris Karius did.

Van Dijk and Alisson played key roles in Liverpool's sixth European Cup/Champions League triumph that came after a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the final at the Metropolitano in Madrid last season.

And now Anfield is savouring another English championship that has never been won so early ... or so late, depending on how you look at it.

Van Dijk's and Alisson’s dependability also enables the team to be more adventurous in its approach because the fullbacks and midfielders know that with two genuine world-class players at the back they in turn can offer their forward threesome constant quality service on a plate.

Liverpool have become a relentless goal machine but no team can reach true greatness unless it has a strong and reliable defence. Without the acquisition of Van Dijk and Alisson, the Reds' run of success at home and abroad would not have been possible.

The impact of the Dutchman and Brazilian has been nothing less than immense and Klopp deserves full credit for digging deep into his club's coffers to bring them to Anfield. Even at a combined cost of $256m the two could be seen as a bargain.

Liverpool are out of the Champions League after falling twice to Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 just before European football was brought to a halt by the coronavirus.

The big guns of the continent will soon resume their quest for continental glory and for the moment Liverpool will make do with the premiership after losing it by one point to Manchester City last year.

Liverpool will be back in Europe next season and no doubt they will continue to torment opponents with their basic but highly effective style of attacking football we have become used to in the last few years.

"We will not stop ... I cannot promise we will win something but I can promise we will improve," Klopp says.

We have not heard the last of this fine team, that's for sure.