The 34-player process Liverpool underwent to decide Virgil van Dijk was the ideal signing

Virgil van Dijk was one players studied by Liverpool in an exhausting process.

Virgil van Dijk has been an absolute revelation for Liverpool since joining at the start of 2018.

Paying £75m for anyone will raise eyebrows for any club, let alone one that had never even spent half of that on a player.

More than that, this was on a defender and was a full £20m more than any club had ever spent on a defensive player.

But any doubts that Liverpool made the right move have long since disappeared - and you only need to look at the stats to see that.

Liverpool had conceded 34 goals in the 32 Premier League games before signing Van Dijk but have only shipped 17 in the 32 with him.

A team that was ridiculed for its leaky defence just one year ago has now equalled the Premier League record for the least goals conceded by Christmas - seven.

So while the money made Van Dijk's signing a big risk, it has proved to be an inspired one, but how did Liverpool decide it was worth taking?

Well, a report from The Times has revealed the process the Reds underwent before signing the Dutchman.

Liverpool first moved for Van Dijk in June 2017, although upset Southampton in the way they did and held the move up until January 2018.

Virgil van Dijk has been a relevation at Liverpool.

They waited, however, and it's easy to see why when you consider they'd spent the previous 18 months before the original bid analysing 34 centre backs.

That meant studying each for 15 games and noting their strengths and weaknesses before putting them into tiers.

'Grade A' defenders were the elite players they wanted to come right in, while 'Grade B' were younger defenders who may be at the elite level one day - presumably, they weren't interested in anyone outside of these tiers.

Aymeric Laporte was Liverpool's second choice and would eventually join Manchester City.

Van Dijk was joined in 'Grade A' by three others, named as Aymeric Laporte, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Jerome Boateng.

Laporte was reportedly the second choice but Van Dijk was the man they wanted and the man they would eventually get.

And when you consider the exhausting process beforehand, you can understand their persistence.

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