The entire footballing world will acknowledge Virgil van Dijk as a top defender. The Dutch centre-back is big and fast, he can pass a ball and is a terrific reader of the game. Van Dijk has been the difference for Liverpool on many occasions since signing for the club last January from Southampton.
Now, hot on the heels of Alisson’s Best Goalkeeper in the World award from Goal.com, Jürgen Klopp was asked to assess Van Dijk’s standing amongst the best defenders. Predictably, the manager praised Van Dijk’s talent but side-stepped the opportunity to spout platitudes about one of his players.
“I am not a guy who likes these comparisons and stuff like that. I am really, really happy with him,” said Klopp. “Virg knows that.”
“With his skills and quality and stuff like that there is always a big responsibility as well, that you have to be spot on, on that level every day.”
“That’s what everybody expects and we are all human beings. Tuesday was not the same game as the Saturday before [at Arsenal], that’s how it is.”
Liverpool dropped well below their level against Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday. Klopp’s team conceded two goals and were ineffective in their efforts to wrestle control of the match. It was a tough loss and defensive shambles but Klopp is confident in the quality and depth of his centre-backs.
Van Dijk is the marquee man but the manager has the luxury of calling on any one of Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren or Joël Matip into the defensive duo. Red Star was a bad game but Liverpool’s strength and development is still very, very good.
“We all struggled a little bit in the last game, but that’s not too important and I don’t make a fuss of it. On the other hand side I don’t celebrate performances when I saw a good one for the next five or six days.
“It’s just that he has quality and that’s good. Like Joe has, like Dejan has, like Joël has. That’s really good for us that we are in that position, obviously. We don’t have a lot of problems.”