Virgil van Dijk: Contract Details Confirmed as Liverpool Agree Big Pay Rise for Star Defender

?Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has agreed a new contract to remain at Anfield until the summer of 2025.

The Dutchman has established himself as one of the finest defenders in the world in the last two seasons and Liverpool have been eager to reward his development with a new deal – despite his current contract not expiring until 2023.

Mohamed Salah

90min learned during the summer that Van Dijk was ?set to pen a new deal which would see the Dutchman earn a huge pay rise, and now ?The Mirror have confirmed that all the details have now been agreed.

Having watched ?Manchester United spend heavily on ?Harry Maguire from ?Leicester City, Van Dijk’s representatives pushed to see their client earn a fair wage which would be fitting of his elite status, and he is now set to take home close to £200,000 per week – a considerable increase from his current weekly pay of £125,000.

His existing deal also includes plenty of performance-related bonuses, but ?Liverpool have now removed the majority of those to ensure that Van Dijk takes home £200,000 per week.

Van Dijk is latest first-team star to extend their contract at Anfield, with the likes of ?Mohamed Salah, ?Sadio Mane, ?Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all penning new deals in the last year.

Having picked up both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and ?Premier League Player of the Season awards last season, Van Dijk recently added the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year prize to his trophy cabinet.

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That reward was based on his impact for both Liverpool and the Netherlands. With his club, Van Dijk came close to lifting the Premier League title, but they did go on to win the ?Champions League, in what was a hugely impressive season for everyone at Liverpool.

He also helped the Netherlands to the first UEFA Nations League final this summer, and Liverpool were desperate to reward such an important player with an improved contract.

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Edwin Van Der Sar High on Man Utd Wishlist as Search for First-Ever Director of Football Continues

?Manchester United are keen to appoint a director of football at the club, with Edwin van der Sar once again linked as one of the primary targets to take up the brand new role.

The retired goalkeeper was signed by the Sir Alex Ferguson in 2005 and went on to play 266 times for the Red Devils, scooping four Premier League titles and a Champions League in a hugely successful spell at the club.

A summer transfer window saw ?United bring in three new players for a total outlay of just over £140m, but there was clear failure to land other members of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s targets -primarily in forward positions – which has made the club rethink their hierarchy structure.


One such option moving forward would be the implementation of a director of football, who would work directly with the manager to try and realise their transfer targets. The ?Mirror claim that one candidate for the role is Van der Sar, who is currently chief executive at Ajax.

The Dutchman was promoted to the role in 2016, having initially been appointed at marketing director, and has overseen superb growth of the club in recent years, earning himself a glowing reputation in the process.

Having helped develop the likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, Ed Woodward would be overjoyed to see such talent rise through the ranks at Old Trafford. Former United players including Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher have been touted, but none with the experience of Van der Sar.

A powerful figure on the board of the European Club Association, if he is offered the position it would pose a dilemma to the 48-year-old who would be walking away from a club who are once again in the ?Champions League and have accrued a healthy bank balance of £220m from recent players sales.

Ed Woodward

Leaving the club at this stage would be considered betrayal by Ajax supporters, although the lure of returning to one of the biggest clubs in the ?Premier League may be hard to refuse.

There is also the situation of Van der Sar’s wife, who suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2009, and while her condition has stabilised, it may be too soon to depart the Netherlands.

The likes of fellow United alumni Michael Carrick, Nicky Butt and even Rio Ferdinand have previously been touted for the role, while ?Norwich’s sporting director Stuart Webber was linked back in May. 

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Alisson: Why Liverpool & Brazil Wall Deserves to Be the First Keeper to Win Ballon d’Or in 56 Years

Amid the strong cohort of Liverpool players in the running for his year’s Ballon d’Or, Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker is one of the many hopefuls.

Should the 26-year-old claim the coveted award, he will be the first goalkeeper to win the prize since the legendary Russian Lev Yashin in 1963. Perhaps bizarrely, perhaps predictably, the position has been overlooked for decades but Alisson should not be written off as a contender and would be a worthy winner for myriad reasons. 

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The Brazilian’s strong form in his debut season at Anfield after his big-money move from AS Roma helped ?Liverpool to an astonishing 97 points in the league, as well as their crowning Champions League glory in June. 

His record of 21 clean sheets was enough to earn him the league’s Golden Glove award as he eradicated the only remaining Achilles Heel in Jurgen Klopp’s side. In fact, by the summer, he had picked up a hat-trick of Golden Gloves by claiming awards in the Champions League and Copa America too.

You could point to a subsequent showreel of smart saves from his antics in 2018/19. However, making good saves are actually what you’d expect from any decent Premier League goalkeeper and would not make him a bona fide contender for the Balon d’Or.

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What stands Alisson out as a real contender is his overall game which has helped redefine what we’ve come to expect from top-class goalies. 

?One example stands out amongst many from last season as a perfect summation of what the Brazilian has brought to Liverpool. Deep into a testing mid-week clash with Burnley at Turf Moor, the home side swung in a corner as they trailed 1-2 in stoppage time.

Liverpool fans would have collectively winced as a melee broke out in the box and half a dozen players in Claret shirts swarmed after the bouncing ball. Ben Mee somehow got his head on it and directed the ball towards the top corner.

In proceeding years with a procession of lesser keepers, this would have had a familiar and frustrating script for Liverpool supporters. This time they had Alisson. 

A fluorescent pink sleeve somehow appeared at full stretch to tip the ball on to the post. Alisson’s save that night was excellent but what immediately followed was truly world-class. 

Joel Matip,Alisson,James Milner

Seconds later Burnley came again with another ball swung in from the right, which took a deflection off Mohamed Salah and angled dangerously towards the six-yard box. Alisson sprang into life, racing away from his goal, before out-jumping a Burnley attacker to claim the high cross with outrageous, commanding confidence. 

He then dashed to the edge of his box and bowled the ball out like a grenade to Daniel Sturridge to spring a counter-attack. Ten seconds later Liverpool had scored to make it 1-3 and win the match. 

It’s a mad passage of play that perfectly encapsulates Alisson’s abilities as a top-class keeper. Not only is he perfectly capable of the show-stopping saves, he is a monster between the sticks; a decisive presence that leaves no guesswork for the defenders in front of him.

He is also arguably the best in the world with his starting positions as the above example illustrates. An instinctive and decisive reading of a game means the Brazil international often takes up intelligent positions to either close down the space of an attacker or pluck the ball out of the air from unorthodox areas in the box. 

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Other goalkeepers, particularly at Liverpool prior to Alisson’s arrival, simply would not have had the instinct or even the inclination to do what he does on a weekly basis with such stoic consistency. 

The final piece is, of course, that wonderful distribution. And it is here where Alisson, along with Manchester City’s Ederson, have done so much to re-define their position and heighten our expectations from top-class modern goalkeepers. 

The former Roma man is able to play the ball out with near laser-guided trajectory. Whether the ball is at his feet or in his hands, Liverpool fans are confident he will find a player in red and contribute to Klopp’s energetic, flowing pace of play. He is the embodiment of a sweeper keeper and a real asset to how the reds spring their lethal brand of attacking football.

You could, of course, argue that Alisson has reaped the benefits of having a fantastic, organised defensive unit in front of him to shield frequent danger. Yes, Virgil van Dijk is arguably the best centre-back Liverpool have signed in modern times. The same is certainly true of their left back Andrew Robertson. Any goalkeeper would do well enough with such elite operators helping him out. However, Alisson’s ability has dramatically improved Liverpool’s defensive displays. With the addition of the Brazilian to the fold, the Reds looked, at times, indomitable at the back as they swept aside anyone and everyone in their path. 

The Ballon d’Or would be a suitable reward for a keeper who has helped transform his team’s fortunes.

While ?his self-identified best save against Napoli in the Champions League group stages was a real sliding doors moment for Liverpool, Alisson’s performance against Barcelona at Anfield during their famous 4-0 semi-final win was equally superb. The Brazilian calmly faced up to a number of good chances from Los Cules that night to keep his side in the tie. He was also outstanding in the final against Spurs as he swatted away three good chances and marshalled his defence all night, refusing to let them drop their energy levels. 

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It would certainly not be a quirky, left of field award should Alisson see off completion from some of the best in the world to claim the Ballon d’Or. 

The best players deserve the best awards and perhaps it’s now finally time to end the decades of under-appreciation for goalkeepers and give the award to the best in the business. 

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Euro 2020 Qualifying Roundup: France & Portugal Win Big as Kane Nets Hat-Trick for England

?England cruised to a 4-0 win over Bulgaria, whilst France, Portugal and Ukraine all eased to victories on a night which provided no real shocks in Euro 2020 qualifying. 

?Harry Kane bagged a hat-trick for the Three Lions – two from the penalty spot – as England eased past Bulgaria in Group A. Raheem Sterling grabbed England’s other goal, and Gareth Southgate’s men warmed up nicely for their sterner test against Kosovo on Tuesday evening. 


Kosovo earned a vital 2-1 win over rivals Czech Republic, and they go into Tuesday’s clash with England only a point behind Kane and the gang. 


In Group B, Portugal came through a tricky test away in Serbia, beating the home side 4-2 in an enthralling match. 

Goals from midfielder William Carvalho and winger Goncalo Guedes put the Euro 2016 champions ahead in Serbia, before Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic pulled one back for the hosts. Late strikes from ?Cristiano Ronald?o and ?Bernardo Silva meant that the away side clinched a crucial three points.

Portugal’s win moved the Nations League champions into second place, behind runaway leaders Ukraine. Football icon and current manager Andriy Shevchenko saw his side ease to a 3-0 win away at Lithuania, ?Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko opening the scoring in the seventh minute. 

France comfortably beat Albania 4-1, despite the best efforts of Antoine Griezmann, who crashed his first-half penalty against the Albanian crossbar. 

brace from Kingsley Coman, a lovely finish by ?Olivier Giroud, and a late fourth from Jonathan Ikone rounded off the scoring for Les Blues. 


Elsewhere in Group H, Iceland hammered Moldova 3-0 in a commanding performance, and Turkey snatched a 1-0 win with a 89th minute winner against Andorra to go joint-top with France and Iceland. 

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Milan: Rating All of I Rossoneri’s 2019 Summer Signings

?Milan have made a number of signings during the summer in a bid to propel themselves higher up the Serie A table in the 2019/20 season.

I Rossoneri finished fifth in the league last term, one point behind Inter. However, they finished 11 points behind second placed Napoli, and a mammoth 22 points behind the league winners Juventus. 

Milan have seen the teams around them strengthening, with Inter bringing in players such as Romelu Lukaku and Napoli doing the same with Hirving Lozano. As a result, the club has been forced to act – Marco Giampaolo has taken over the reigns, while a number of new signings have also come in. 

We’ve taken the opportunity to go ahead and rate each summer signing the Italian giants have made this summer. 


Defenders

Leo Duarte – Well, it’s fair to say Duarte isn’t exactly the high-profile signing ?Milan fans were hoping for. The club were frantically searching for defensive reinforcements throughout the summer and were very keen on Juventus’ Merih Demiral, but were unable to seal a deal. 

The former Flamengo man doesn’t appear to be the answer to their problems, but only time will tell if he’s capable of making the step up to a more tactically challenging league. 4/10

Theo Hernandez – There were questions raised over the signing of Hernandez, with many believing that he wasn’t needed due to the importance of Ricardo Rodriguez. The 21-year-old is fast, capable of supporting the attack and is still young, indicating that his €20m fee is fairly reasonable in this current market.

However, he hasn’t started for I Rossoneri in their opening two league fixtures, with Rodriguez getting the nod. The two will push each other on and Hernandez will be a useful option for Giampaolo as the season progresses. 6/10


Midfielders

Ismael Bennacer

Rade Krunic – Signed for €8m from Empoli in the summer, Krunic will add depth to the midfield. The 25-year-old bagged five goals and seven assists in his 33 Serie A appearances last season, which is respectable – but, not outstanding. Milan are keen to push themselves higher up the table, but the signing of Krunic isn’t exactly the statement buy they required. 5/10

Ismael Bennacer – Now then, this could well prove to be an outstanding acquisition. Not too many had heard of Bennacer last year when he was at Empoli, but he has seen his stock rise majorly throughout the summer. 

He was a fixture last term for Empoli and he carried his fine form into the Africa Cup of Nations, where he picked up the Player of the Tournament award. Aged 21, €16m is nothing short of a steal for a player who is continuously improving. Bennacer fills a void that Milan have been trying to fill for years now. 9/10 


Forwards

Rafael Leao – Leao is brimming with potential and Milan fans will be hoping he can provide some much-needed quality in front of goal. The 20-year-old bagged eight goals in his 16 starts for LOSC Lille last term, proving that he can find the net when given the chance. 

The forward is the only real like-for-like replacement to Krzysztof Pi?tek, meaning he should get a fair amount of game-time. At €25m, this could prove to be a very shrewd signing as he has the potential to be a world-class talent. 8/10

Ante Rebic – Milan ?finally completed the signing of Ante Rebic on a two-year loan, with Andre Silva heading to Eintracht Frankfurt as part of the deal.

Rebic is fast, powerful, direct and he will cause problems for opposition defences. The Rossoneri clearly wanted rid of Silva, and this proved to be a good swap. His ten goals and six assists for Frankfurt last season indicates that he has the ability to change a game for Giampaolo and there aren’t too many drawbacks to this signing. 7/10


Overall

Marco Giampaolo

Milan have made three excellent signings in Rebic, Leao and Bennacer, with all three set to play important roles this season as they go in search of finishing in the Champions League qualifications spaces.

The inability to buy a world-class centre-back may come back to haunt Giampaolo and his team however, despite their best efforts to land one. I Rossoneri’s decision to opt for fairly young and promising signings is a sign of the intentions of the club. However, only time will tell if they are able to live up to their potential. 

Overall Rating – 7/10

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