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The Van Dijk Paradox

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Every single consultant that’s ever worked in recruitment has heard a similar thing – ‘we’re looking for someone who can come into our organisation and hit the ground running; we’re looking to improve our business immediately with this addition. We want this person to perform instantly themselves and to also increase the quality of our business and the productivity of the people around them to ensure our stakeholders are happy.’

When Liverpool Football Club paid £75m for the services of Virgil Van Dijk the footballing world scoffed:

"Van Dijk is a good player, yes, but for £75m? No, he's not worth it at all.” – Alan Shearer

"It's a lot of money! When I first heard it I thought 'wow, £75m'. I'm not surprised by the actual transfer but that is an incredible amount of money” – Gary Neville

The world of recruitment is a finely balanced thing – do you pay the premium price for the candidate you know is going to revolutionise your workforce or do you pay a lower price (although still a significant outlay) on someone who deep down you know isn’t the perfect fit?

Since Van Dijk’s record breaking fee for a defender was paid, The Reds have gone on to become the cream of the continent. Back to back Champions League finals and a 97 point haul in the Premier League last season have seen the club rise from the ashes to become the best team in world football. All of this was possible because of the recruitment of VVD and when you break down how it came about you start to see why remaining thorough and resolute with your recruitment strategy can pay the richest of rewards.

Liverpool scouted Virgil Van Dijk for 3 seasons. Their scouts watched him 50 times and waited for him when Southampton told them that he wasn’t for sale. Instead of going out and spending their budget on a player of inferior quality, they waited and waited until he was available. They didn’t waste their money on a different candidate and I feel a lot of managers out there at the moment are giving up the longer term benefits of the right hire by plugging gaps in their defence with candidates who are available immediately.

On the 22nd October 2017 Liverpool lost 4-1 away at Tottenham Hotspur with Dejan Lovren being substituted in the 31st minute. On the 1st January 2018 Liverpool signed Virgil Van Dijk and never looked back.

The moral? Do your research, identify the right candidate and invest in them by waiting for them.

Don’t buy a Lovren when you can buy a Van Dijk.
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