Jürgen Klopp spoke to the press today ahead of Friday’s league game against Southampton and he had some good news for anyone worried about the status Virgil van Dijk, confirming the Dutch defender trained today, “looks okay,” and is fully expected to face his former club.
“He is so important to us, not only as a player but a person,” Klopp continued after being asked about Van Dijk’s status. “He’s a brilliant boy—I couldn’t say a bad word about him even if I wanted. But he knows as well you need the boys around you. Usually, defending is team work.”
Certainly Van Dijk’s performances have been boosted by his teammates, with goalkeeper Alisson and fullbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold in particular helping him to take another step in his own development since he arrived at Anfield a little more than a year ago.
His role in Liverpool’s improvement, though, would be difficult to overstate. It’s a team game, and Van Dijk isn’t the only outstanding performer at the back for the Reds, but it isn’t by accident he’s being talked about as the frontrunner to be named Premier League player of the season.
“He has improved us and I think he has improved as well since coming,” Klopp added. “He’s a different player now to at Southampton. He was really really good there already. but with all the games he has played here—Champions League, quarter-finals, semi-finals—that helps as a player.
“He’s for a centre half still so young, so there’s still a lot to come and if he can stay healthy now then everything will be fine.”