Player transfers have come to play a significant role in football over the years. While clubs have academies that young players are promoted from, there remains a perennial need to strengthen certain areas of a team.
Some of these transfers fail to live up to their expectations due to various factors. Others went on to impress and deliver at the level they were touted. However, a few of these moves have been the perfect choice for all parties involved. These players have gone on to leave lasting effects on their clubs.
With that in mind, we take a look at five transfers that transformed fortunes:
#5 Virgil van Dijk’s transfer to Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk is widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs to grace the Premier League. The Dutchman is tall, quick and bullish – everything expected from a centre-back.
He joined Liverpool in January 2018 from Southampton for €85 million – a world-record fee for a defender. The transfer raised quite a few eyebrows. All those doubts were quashed after the Dutchman shored up a notoriously shaky Liverpool defense.
With van Dijk at the back, Liverpool made it to the Champions League final in the defender’s debut campaign. Although the Merseyside outfit lost the final 3-1 to Real Madrid, van Dijk was included in the Champions League squad that season despite playing just half of the matches.
The next season brought more success for Liverpool and van Dijk as they once again reached the Champions League final. This time against Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool won 2-0 and the defender was voted Man of the Match. He was also named the PFA Player of the Year and included in the PFA Team of the Year.
In van Dijk’s third season, he helped Liverpool to the Super Cup, Club World Cup and a first-ever Premier League trophy. The Dutch defender finished runner-up in The Best FIFA Men’s Player and the Ballon d’Or. He was also included in the FIFpro Men’s World XI and the UEFA Team of the Year.
Van Dijk suffered a season-ending injury early last season. Consequently, his absence saw Liverpool’s season capitulate, further underscoring the Dutchman’s importance to the side.
#4 Dennis Bergkamp’s transfer to Arsenal
A graduate of the famous Ajax academy, Bergkamp joined Arsenal in 1995, smashing the club’s transfer record by some distance. The Dutchman initially struggled to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League in his first season at Arsenal. However, the arrival of new manager Arsene Wenger the following season saw the Dutchman come alive and kickstart a major turning point in the Gunners’ fortunes.
Wenger opted to build his side’s attack around Bergkamp. It worked to perfection as the midfielder led the side to a domestic double in his third season. Bergkamp finished as the team’s top scorer and was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.
The arrival of Thierry Henry in 1999 further strengthened Arsenal and Bergkamp went on to win eight more trophies at the club. While the Frenchman is widely regarded for his exploits at Arsenal, it was Bergkamp who ushered in the Emirates side’s glory days.