Virgil van Dijk has been proving he is one of the best center-backs in world football since the day he joined Liverpool FC. While his catastrophic knee injury last season derailed him a bit, he found his form much quicker than anyone would have expected and was back to being a world-class defender soon after making his return.
The big Dutchman recently joined Rio Ferdinand on BT Sports’ Between The Lines to talk about his defensive approach. The full episode will be released later this month and is sure to be enlightening, but there was plenty to talk about in just the short clip that BT Sport posted on Twitter.
Firstly, Ferdinand asked van Dijk what he believed was his best attribute as a center-back, and his answer was something we’ve all known for a long time now.
“I think I’m quite complete for modern-day football,” admitted van Dijk. “You have to organize, you have to have an overview of the whole pitch. Especially with the way we play, we play a lot of attacking football, so you have to make sure that your holding midfielders are together with your other center back.”
“I try to think ahead - what the striker or the midfielder might do in his next move.”
Van Djik is certainly not wrong that he is a complete defender, and opposing players know it as well. He has noticed there are games where he seems to be avoided by attackers who opt to target his partner instead.
“Yes, for example, we played against Everton at the weekend and I felt after the game that I didn’t have many challenges,” van Dijk said when Ferdinand asked if he noticed that players seem hesitant to take him on. “I looked at Joël (Matip) on the right and he was targeted. He was amazing that game, by the way.”
Though he may not always be as involved as his defensive partner, van Dijk doesn’t allow that to get to him as long as the Reds are winning matches and preventing goals.
“No, no!” he said when asked if attackers avoiding him was ever frustrating. “If we win, keep a clean sheet and I didn’t have too much to do then happy days and we can recover and go again.”