Virgil van Dijk, the captain of Liverpool, has responded to those who had begun to doubt him at the right time, according to Jamie Carragher.
The Reds captain has received praise for his part in the team’s ascent to the summit of European and English football under Jurgen Klopp. Van Dijk has aided Liverpool in winning the Champions League, Premier League, Carabao Cup, and FA Cup during his tenure at Anfield.
The Netherlands captain has struggled in recent seasons as he tries to live up to the standards he set before suffering a catastrophic knee injury in October 2020. As a result, the center-back has frequently come under fire.
Ruud Gullit referred to Van Dijk as “an ice skater” earlier this year, and Marco van Basten, a famous Dutch football icon who won the Euros with Gullit in 1988, charged Van Dijk with inciting “chaos” on the field.
However, Carragher asserts in his editorial for The Telegraph that Van Dijk’s string of strong performances thus far this season had dissuaded people who had begun to mistrust him. The former Liverpool player thinks the defense will be crucial to his former team’s attempt to contend for the crown.
For Liverpool to be title contenders this season, Virgil van Dijk needs to reclaim his position as the group’s leader, according to Carragher. The good news for Jurgen Klopp is that he is already doing this. With the exception of a poor performance against Newcastle United, Van Dijk’s form has gone unnoticed during Liverpool’s promising start.
“It has been a fitting answer because Van Dijk must refute critics for the first time in his Anfield career. He had had a bad year by his standards. But we must not lose sight of how extremely high they are.
“Many argue Van Dijk has not been the same since he sustained a serious knee injury in the Merseyside derby in October, 2020,” the Sky Sports analyst continued. That is a revisionist history. He excelled in 2021–2022 when he achieved two victories from a quadruple. Even the recent controversial loss to Spurs was only Van Dijk’s third setback in his previous 21 league contests.
Long-term, the knee surgery probably did have an impact, but Van Dijk’s current poor reviews are based on his performance. This player, a rare honor for a center-back, was unlucky to come in second place to Lionel Messi in the 2019 Ballon d’Or voting.
In terms of defense, Van Dijk has transformed from a superhuman to a human. He continues to rank among the Premier League’s top four center backs.
Then, Carragher added, “As the new captain of Liverpool, Van Dijk’s next championship at Anfield will feel as fulfilling as any. He might believe that time is running out. In 2025, his contract will be up. Fenway Sports Group’s model indicates that he is unlikely to receive another on the same conditions – in excess of £300,000 a week – as he commands right now because he will be close to 34 by then.
“Speculation about how and when Liverpool will ever replace Van Dijk has picked up steam. Thiago Silva of Chelsea is living proof that even the best center-backs can outlive their years.
A young defender as good as Van Dijk in 2023 would still be worth £75 million, according to the statement, “Liverpool are unlikely to ever find a defender comparable to the one they signed in 2018.”