Jurgen Klopp told Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk pursuit has affected Reds defence

The Arsenal legend believes Liverpool's bid to sign Virgil van Dijk has sapped confidence of Jurgen Klopp's current defenders

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk Photo: Virgil van Dijk / Twitter

Martin Keown has suggested that Liverpool’s public pursuit of Virgil van Dijk has had a negative effect on Jurgen Klopp’s current defenders.

The Reds were heavily linked with a move to sign the Netherlands international throughout the summer transfer window but a deal failed to materialise.

Klopp was spotted talking to Van Dijk in Blackpool to suggest a transfer was close to being completed before a dramatic twist to the Van Dijk saga.

Liverpool were forced to issue a statement apologising to Southampton over their pursuit of the club captain and ending their interest in the Dutch centre-half.

However, the Merseyside outfit continued to be linked with the former Celtic defender despite their apology.

Southampton stood firm and Van Dijk remained a Southampton player beyond transfer deadline day to leave Klopp without a centre-half signing.

The Reds have already conceded 16 times in eight games in all competitions to raise serious questions about Liverpool’s defending.

Former Southampton defender Dejan Lovren and Estonia international Ragnar Klavan have really struggled in Liverpool’s opening game of the 2017-18 season.

Ex Arsenal centre-half Keown suggested that Liverpool’s much-publicised pursuit of Van Dijk has had a negative impact on his back four.

“Liverpool are still not strong enough in central defence and there are issues elsewhere in the squad,” Keown told the Daily Mail.

“They targeted the right player in Virgil van Dijk. Southampton just would not budge.

“That will impact on what has been left behind. The defenders know Klopp was trying to replace them.

Arsenal finished in fifth place in the Premier League last term.

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