Jamie Carragher: Arsenal needed to sign top 26-year-old centre-half to win the title

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher says Arsenal will regret not signing Virgil van Dijk more than Chelsea

Liverpool legend Virgil van Dijk Photo: Virgil van Dijk / Twitter

Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal needed to sign Virgil van Dijk to challenge for the Premier League title this season.

The Southampton club captain was linked with a move to Liverpool throughout the summer transfer window but a deal failed to materialise.

The Merseyside outfit couldn’t get a deal over the line for the 26-year-old despite Van Dijk’s apparent interest in a move to Liverpool.

Arsenal and Chelsea were also linked with an interest in the Netherlands international but neither London club signed the former Celtic defender.

Van Dijk has established himself as one of the best centre-halves in the Premier League over the past 24 months since his move to St Mary’s from the Scottish Premier League champions in 2015.

Former Liverpool defender Carragher believes Arsenal will regret not signing Van Dijk more than Chelsea in the summer transfer window.

“Arsenal haven’t improved at the back since last season,” Carragher told Standard Sport. “If you want to be successful, you have to have a strong defensive unit. But that’s what has let Arsenal down.

“Arsenal conceded 44 goals last season and that is far too many. You must aim to concede less than a goal a game, then that gives you a chance to challenge for the title.

“Just look at the last three champions: Chelsea last season (33 goals against), Leicester (36) and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2015 (32).

“This is why I was very surprised Arsenal didn’t bring another centre-back in, especially as they are going to play three at the back a lot more.

“Arsenal and Chelsea wanted to sign Van Dijk and the £60-£70million fee talked about was an awful lot and shows there is a dearth of centre-backs. If you want a player of that quality, you have to pay it. If you don’t, maybe you don’t achieve the targets you have set for the club.

“Southampton didn’t sell Van Dijk, but Chelsea still went and brought in Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen [back from loan] and added to what they had.”

Arsenal have already conceded eight goals in four games in the 2017-18 Premier League campaign so far.

The Gunners suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield last month.

Chelsea have won three of their last four games to hoist themselves up to third place in the Premier League table.

The west London side signed AS Roma defender Antonio Rudiger in the summer.

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