Former Premier League striker Noel Whelan has praised Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards amid reports of a new contract for centre back Virgil van Dijk.
The Daily Mirror reported last week that the Dutchman had agreed terms on a new deal that will earn him close to £200,000-per-week and will tie him to the club until 2025.
BBC pundit Whelan is in no doubt about who should get the credit for the news: “Hats off to Liverpool if they’ve tied him down,” he told Football Insider. “Liverpool realise they have to give Van Dijk a better deal to keep him, that’s how football business is done.
“To keep any top player happy, you have to pay them what they’re worth. No-one can say Van Dijk isn’t worth a top salary. He’s a great defender, probably the best in the world. Michael Edwards has got a lot of credit for Liverpool’s transfers and signings, but keeping the players you’ve got is just as important. It seems Edwards is always one step ahead.”
There’s no overestimating just how important Edwards has been to Liverpool’s rise to the summit of European football. From getting top dollar for players Jurgen Klopp barely utilised to securing the futures of almost all of the Reds’ key stars, Edwards has been a hugely influential behind-the-scenes figure at Anfield. Liverpool are now a phenomenal juggernaut both on the pitch and off it, with Klopp and Edwards the two most important men at the club. However, they are closely followed by Van Dijk, which is why the club has reportedly moved so decisively to secure a contract extension for the imperious Dutchman. Whelan is correct when he says that you need to pay your best players big money to keep them, and that’s seemingly what the Reds are doing with the former Southampton man. Keeping your key men is absolutely crucial, and throughout his time on Merseyside Edwards has ensured he’s done just that.