Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith believes that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been getting a lot of flak this season for his failure to sign a defender after missing out on signing Southampton's Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk made no secret of his desire to swap Hampshire for Merseyside last summer and submitted a transfer request as he attempted to push through a deal. His request was instantly rejected by Southampton, who forced Van Dijk to train away from Mauricio Pellegrino's first-team for the remainder of the transfer window.

Jurgen Klopp's side were ready to pay a club-record fee for the £70m ($90m)-rated Van Dijk, but Southampton were left fuming by Liverpool's perceived tapping-up of their captain and issued a complaint to the Premier League over the Merseysiders' approach.

Wary of severe punishment, Liverpool apologised both publicly and privately to the Saints and made it clear that they would not make a move for the 26-year-old unless Pellegrino's side decided to sell. However, given the Reds' defensive performance this season, having conceded five goals against Manchester City and failing to win against Newcastle United before the international break, the spotlight has turned back on the Reds' transfer failures this season.

"One or two Liverpool fans for the first time are asking questions about Klopp," Smith told Sky Sports' The Debate Show, as quoted by the Express."I think it is because of the whole Van Dijk saga. We know how it finished. They are thinking 'why can't we get to sign another defender if we can't get him?'. So there are questions to answer for Klopp."

While their interest in Van Dijk may linger, Liverpool are focused on other issues including trying to keep hold of their best players like Philippe Coutinho, who submitted a transfer request in order to push through a move to Barcelona, but he failed to clinch a switch to the Camp Nou. The Reds will now take on Manchester United on Sunday(14 November) at Anfield, where a win will go a long way in dispelling these accusations.

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk was keen on completing a move from Southampton to Liverpool in the summer Getty