Liverpool drew up a shortlist of four players when they started the hunt for a new central defender last season, which resulted in the Reds signing Virgil van Dijk.
The Anfield club spent £75million on Van Dijk at the beginning of this year, bringing him in from Southampton.
He has since established himself as perhaps the best centre-half in the Premier League, while he is also widely regarded as one of the best in the world.
The Reds were long-term admirers of Van Dijk having scouted the Netherlands international since he was at Celtic, whom he joined from Groningen in 2013, and their perseverance has paid off, with Van Dijk arriving on Merseyside and helping Liverpool become serious title contenders.
However, they were not always confident of signing Van Dijk, and a shortlist was created by Liverpool featuring other central defenders the club were ready to sign.
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According to The Times, the shortlist featured four ‘A grade’ targets and four ‘B grade’ targets, the latter being youngsters who could become ‘A grade’ players in the future.
Van Dijk was top of the ‘A grade’ shortlist, with alternatives to the Dutchman including Kalidou Kouliably, the Napoli ace, and Bayern Munich and Germany’s Jerome Boateng.
The final ‘A grade’ option was Aymeric Laporte, who signed for Manchester City 30 days after Van Dijk became a Liverpool player.
Laporte played for Athletic Club prior to joining City, and Liverpool felt he was a fine option to become a first-choice central defender for a title challenging side.
Pep Guardiola clearly agreed with Liverpool’s assessment of Laporte, as the 24-year-old has become an almost guaranteed starter for City in his first year at the Etihad.