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Fabinho Praises “Big Child” Virgil van Dijk

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It seems there’s a genuine bond here.

Liverpool v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Anfield Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

Virgil van Dijk. He’s good at football. Everyone knows it. Fabinho certainly knows it.

“No-one beats him in the air,” Fabinho told a Brazilian podcast, as reported by the Liverpool Echo. “And I think he’s now gone 64 games without being dribbled past.

“He’s fast. And it’s funny that it seems like he doesn’t have to make much effort to run. He does it that way, like a big guy, and he easily gets to the ball.

“Balls in the air are funny. The ball comes and we just hear him shouting ‘VIRG!’. And you can let it pass, whoever the attacker is. Against Manchester [United], he impressed me. We were going to play against Romelu Lukaku. I thought ‘hey Lukaku has his size, let’s see if he will hold up’. My God. Every air ball, it was ‘VIRG!’, he would run over. You hear ‘VIRG!’, you get out of the way, because he will come running over.”

“I sit between him and Wijnaldum in the locker room. And Van Dijk is a big child. He just plays, makes jokes. Off the pitch he’s a very good guy. And on the pitch he is the guy who shouts the most. Who shouts at everyone and everyone is like ‘okay’. And he’s not afraid of whoever he screams at – gives everyone a scolding. He has a thick voice, you can hear him from afar.”

Speaking more about the personal dynamic, Fabinho added that “Virgil on the pitch, I think he’s the one who holds the lead. But in the dressing room are Henderson, who is the captain, and Milner.

“These two guys whenever there’s something, are the two that organise a meeting, are the two who talk most in the locker room.

“When I arrived at the club, they were the ones who talked to me the most, guiding me. And it surprised me a little that they are the two of my position, the two who helped me a lot.”

The incredible 4-0 win against Barcelona, overturning the 3-0 defeat, of course came up. Fabinho added that, following the first leg, he was “in the ice bath with [Sadio] Mané after the game and Klopp came up to me and said ‘Gini said we’ll get through next week – what do you think?’

“I said I was sure of it, and Klopp replied ‘Good, there’s three of us already!”

“The stadium that day... wow!” he said. “Everyone gathered in front of the Kop and looking back at the difficulty of the game without two world-class players... I almost teared up at one point.”

While Van Dijk’s defensive dominance is no secret, it’s great to hear it from a teammate who seems to have really settled in behind the scenes. Looks like we could get even more out of Fabinho this coming season.