How Liverpool Virgil van Dijk became one of the most talked-about defenders in world football



His arrival is geared towards a remarkable revival of defensive fortunes in Liverpool – and the stats support that claim.

The world record of Virgil van Dijk, which in January £ 75 million from Southampton arrived, is seen as the moment when the previously much maligned backline of Jurgen Klopp began to reverse the flow of public perception.

The manager from Liverpool always insisted that the defensive shortcomings on his side had to do with individual concentration problems rather than with a systematically flawed approach to ward off opposition attacks, but it is undeniable that the signature Van Dijk has significantly improved the Reds.

In fact, Liverpool began to put things right back in October last year after a 4-1 caste who humbled himself at Spurs. Since that distressing afternoon in Wembley on October 23, the side of Klopp has admitted the least goals in the Eredivisie, he only shipped 22 to Manchester City # 24.

Liverpool & # 39; s Virgil van Dijk during a practice match for the season in Ewood Park, Blackburn.
Liverpool & # 39; s Virgil van Dijk during a practice match for the season in Ewood Park, Blackburn.

Only West Brom made fewer mistakes leading to goals than the Reds after that game – a problem that Klopp and his team have clearly dealt with since the loss. The five-time European cup winners have only made two fatal errors in the last 10 months of Premier League football.

However, it is the recording of the powerful Van Dijk that has relaxed a bit of defensive trouble at Anfield. In the 14 games with the Dutch captain four consecutively on their backs, Liverpool allowed on average 0.7 goals compared to the 1.2 that they did in the 24 matches without him.

And the impressive, yet classy middle back went on where he left off and made back-to-back clean sheets when Liverpool started their new Premier League campaign with maximum points against West Ham and Crystal Palace.

Liverpool's new signature, Virgil van Dijk, pictured at Melwood Training Ground on December 31, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell / Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Van Dijk's latest master class came on Monday night in what was billed as a potential early banana peel for Klopp and his indictment. The 27-year-old made eight clearances against Crystal Palace when the resolute Reds stood steadfastly against Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke and co.

The former Southampton skipper received the official Man of the Match award for his performance at Selhurst Park and such rearguard battles might be why there is so much excitement about a possible Premier League challenge this season.

The most recent real tilt from Liverpool at the Holy Grail under Brendan Rodgers crashed thanks to a porous backline that yielded a dazzling 50 goals – three of which came in Selhurst Park on a notorious night in May 2014.

Virgil van Dijk and Jurgen Klopp
Virgil van Dijk and Jurgen Klopp

However, with the marshalling procedure of Van Dijk at the back, Liverpool will not be as leaky as the thrill seekers of Rodgers, which means that Mohamed Salah, Sadio and Roberto Firmino will probably not have to repeat their collective 91-target haul of last term to The side of Klopp in the hunt for glory.

The world's most expensive center back is the man on everyone's lips at the moment, not least his manager who is happy that the price of £ 75m is now rarely discussed.

Klopp said after the Palace game: "The performance of Virgil was real, very good, quality costs a specific price, so are cars, there are so many things.

"Nobody thinks about that right now, which is good, in this market at the moment he is at least worth it."

Jamie Carragher spent most of his 737 Liverpool career as a center-back, won 11 trophies in the process, and he believes Van Dijk's quality is good enough to have an enduring legacy at Anfield – at condition that the silverware flows.

"If Liverpool has to win something big under Klopp – and [Van Dijk] would be an important part of that, if that were the case, he would have to be disappointed if he was not standing next to Alan Hansen and not talking about him in 20 years as one of the great central defenders of Liverpool.

"He taps into each box: the presence to win everything in the air, the pace, the power, the power on the ball, a player will have a few and the player next to them will cover it, but he has them all by the time.

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"Players like him on this team now have to bring Liverpool to something great, and that's when you're remembered, when you win something big."

Gary Neville, the co-pilot of Carragher on Monday Night Football, thinks Liverpool's number 4 is ready to challenge the Real Madrid duo Rafael Varane and Sergio Ramos as the elite centers of the world.

"I think it's a bit early to say that he is the best defender in the world," Neville said. "I think Varane and Ramos are by far the best in recent years, they have won four European Cups." What I would say is that the potential is there and the performance is immense.

Real Madrid & # 39; s Cristiano Ronaldo responds to Liverpool's Virgil Van Dijk during the UEFA Champions League final

"He is a much better defender than I thought he was, the impact is much greater, he is a monster, he reminds me of what Jaap Stam was doing in terms of level of performance.

"He is a force, he is a big, big force and I must say that he seems to have the ingredients of a top middle half, to compete with the likes of Varane and Ramos."

The solid performance of Van Dijk has also attracted the attention of many of the national media, which were exuberant in their praise for the most expensive defender in the history of football.

"Van Dijk is not determined by his transfer fee nor by the hullaballoo that preceded the deal", writes Alysson Rudd in The Times. "The off-pitch drama is now completely out of the question and the reason for this is because it seems like everything Liverpool reaches this season will be built around its aura.

"Klopp has brought together a group that is full of talent, tempo and work ethic. They can sparkle to the point that anyone who can watch is panting, giggling and applauding.

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Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool

"In the midst of the flurry of shredding counterattacks and heavy metal football, there is a player who reads it all just a little bit differently, and a father figure that makes the fireworks fun, especially but safe."

Dominic King of the Daily Mail claims that the compensation of £ 75m from Van Dijk is now only a side issue, so his imperious form is the core of Liverpool's defense.

He writes: "Van Dijk was the player that Klopp had to have Liverpool looked at other options when their search for Van Dijk got into trouble in the summer of 2017.

"Davinson Sanchez, Napoli & # 39; s Kalidou Koulibaly and Michael Keane were all considered, but none had Van Dijk's X-factor, and almost nine months after he finally signed up to £ 75 million from Southampton, costs."

Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the opening goal at the International Champions Cup 2018 match between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund at Bank of America Stadium on July 22, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the opening goal at the International Champions Cup 2018 match between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund at Bank of America Stadium on July 22, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Neil Jones of Goal.com writes that it was just more of the same from the Dutch skipper in Selhurst Park.

"Virgil van Dijk did what Virgil van Dijk does, winning header after header against Christian Benteke and ensuring that the penalty area of ​​the Reds was kept safe and that their attacks had a starting point", he writes.

"What a class act is the former Southampton man, what a difference he has made for this team Benteke was in the past often a thorn in Liverpool's side, but he was here pocketed by the Dutchman.

"When Palace chased the game, the Belgian was taken off board, he looked relieved." Alexander Sorloth, his equally physical replacement, also had no fun. "


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