He changed everything. Virgil Van Dijk signed for Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 and Jürgen Klopp’s side have performed as a solid defensive unit ever since. The addition of Alisson from AS Roma last summer was all Liverpool needed to complete the puzzle. Now, the entire squad is stacked from top to bottom with exceptional football players.
Still, Van Dijk stands out every week on the pitch. His passing is great. His distribution over the top and cross field are incredibly accurate and crucial to the team’s attacking play. His defensive positions are spot-on. Van Dijk was not dribbled passed last season. It just didn’t happen.
Of course, the world has been taking notice. Liverpool isn’t just Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mané. Van Dijk is a major force for opposition forwards to reckon with on the pitch and his highlight reel of defensive feats is as impressive as a string of goals from Roberto Firmino. The celebrations aren’t as creative, but not every one can do what Bobby does.
Ex-keeper Paul Robinson is the latest in a long line of Van Dijk admirers to announce their love of the Dutchman on camera.
“He’s looking like the complete package at the moment, his aerial ability, his strength, his reading of the game, his ability to manage others around him as well,” said Robinson.
“He’s a leader, he leads by example as well, the quality that he showed last year.
“As I said, the signing of him and Alisson in the last 18th months and the impact they have had, is just phenomenal. And he is going to go on and lead Liverpool for a long time.”
The idea that Van Dijk would ever leave Liverpool is alarming. But winning makes a wonderful environment for keeping footballers and Klopp has pretty well forged a strong side that should be expected to continue pushing into the upper echelon’s of European football for years to come.
At 28-years-old, Van Dijk can’t be expected to be around for “a long time” at the highest level but his experience and leadership will be priceless tools for the manager, the squad, and the young defenders looking up to him for the foreseeable future.