No outfield Liverpool player has started every Premier League match in consecutive seasons since the dawn of the millennium. If Virgil van Dijk’s name is on the team sheet tomorrow against Newcastle, which seems likely, he’ll end that streak.
The Dutch defender has been a mainstay since arriving on Merseyside. He started all 38 league matches last year, missing out on a grand total of 35 minutes across the entire season. This year? He hasn’t missed a single minute of league action.
“You’re never 100 percent,” Van Dijk told the club’s official website, “but there have been some games where I’ve struggled before the game – whether it’s through illness and didn’t train until the matchday or small little injuries.
“I think it’s just something you just have to go through. On a matchday there are so many ways you can just be a little bit more hard on yourself to try and play the games.
“It’s only 90 minutes at the end of the day – that’s how the manager says it as well. He said I played all these games because I don’t run around and I’m a centre-back! I told him the other day, ‘Don’t take it for granted, gaffer!’”
It’s something we shouldn’t take for granted, either. There have been many important, injury-resistant players throughout the last two decades that were not able to do what Virgil is about to do. Jamie Carragher, for instance, who is was as “mainstay” as an outfield player could be, only appeared in all 38 league matches twice in his illustrious career.
Since arriving at Liverpool, Van Dijk has been the key toward creating defensive stability in Jurgen Klopp’s side. He’s helped us achieve back-to-back Champions League finals, and back-to-back league campaigns of 96+ points. It’s hard to overstate the impact he has had in the side, and that includes his ability to be fit and ready to play week-in and week-out.
It’s probably asking a lot, but could you repeat the trick next season as well, Virg?