On 27 December 2017, Liverpool supporters around the world received a late Christmas gift in the form of the announcement that Virgil van Dijk would officially become a Liverpool player on 1 January 2018 for a reported fee of GBP 75 million. VVD went on to make his debut in LFC red just a few days later when Liverpool took on Everton in the FA Cup third round at Anfield on 5 January 2018 and made club history by becoming the first player since Bill White in 1901 to score on his debut in the Merseyside derby when he scored the winning goal.
Since joining Liverpool, VVD has played 33 league games of which 19 of those have been clean sheets with the Reds conceding only 17 goals. Prior to last season, Liverpool conceded an average of 111 set piece shots per season, seven seasons in a row. However, since the start of 2018 they’ve only allowed in 31 and that is largely thanks to VVD.
When he was asked about Virgil after the match against Wolves in which VVD scored his first Premier League goal last Friday, Andy Robertson said; “I’m getting bored speaking about how good he is! No, I’m only joking. He was fantastic. We knew when we saw [Adama] Traore up top that he has got great pace. His pace and direction are a big threat and big Virgil did so well with him. We knew on the counter-attack they were dangerous. I’m sure he will be disappointed he has not scored more goals but it was a clean sheet and his first Premier League goal - pretty much a perfect day for him. He’s been brilliant [since joining Liverpool]. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside him for the majority of time on the left-hand side of the defence. He’s just a great lad to have next to you - I’m not sure he will say the same about me! I think we have had a good relationship, we work together. The whole back four does, whoever plays, his impact on the club has been good. I look forward to it continuing.”
In honour of his first year at Liverpool, VVD penned an essay on his favourite moments at the club thus far and here is an excerpt:
It feels like I’ve been playing at Liverpool for years. This year has flown past so quickly, but my family and I have enjoyed every bit of it. Already there have been so many good memories that I’ve made in such a short period – but there are so many things we want to achieve with this group, this club. We need to keep going.
The boss revealed recently I had been voted as the third captain by the players, after Hendo and Millie. That is such a big honour – and for it to have been voted for by the players is incredible. It’s not something I work for but if you get the recognition and if the manager agrees with it, then it’s something you cannot take for granted. You need to enjoy it, you need to be really proud of it – especially for such a big club like Liverpool.
A lot of legends have worn the armband for Liverpool so it’s very special; when I put it on, it’s a proud moment for me and my family to wear it for such a big club, such a historical club with so many legends and great people, it’s something amazing.
I definitely feel the bond we have with the supporters. It’s about being normal. We’re not better than anyone else. We are all human beings and the manager is also putting that out as well. He has been loved by everyone and I think it is because he has been himself. As a player, he will give you his honest opinion and be straight with you. It’s who he is. With all the players we have now, we’re trying to make sure everyone is doing that as well and being as normal as they can be. We are not better than anyone else as human beings...
It feels like it is an exciting time at Liverpool – and hopefully it will prove to be that as well. We still need to show it on the pitch, but it feels good at the moment. What’s important is we need to keep going; we cannot be satisfied with what we have right now because we have nothing at the moment. We need to keep going, stay humble and work hard. Looking at ourselves is the most important thing as well.
Other than the disappointment of losing the final, it has been a fantastic journey for me here so far. I have enjoyed every bit of it, I have enjoyed every game. There are some games you lose, and I am sad and angry, I don’t want to talk to anyone, but after that you have to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Since I have been here, I have had some fantastic moments with this team. With the help of all my teammates, the staff and the fans, I believe it can only get better and hopefully we are going to achieve amazing things with the group for all the fans supporting us throughout the world.
And we as supporters certainly do believe that things are only going to get better and that amazing things are on the horizon for everyone at Liverpool Football Club!