Programme notesWhy Virgil van Dijk's form this season is 'remarkable'
Jürgen Klopp has described his admiration for the standard of Virgil van Dijk's performances this season.
Since his return last summer from a serious knee ligament injury that ruled him out of the majority of 2020-21, the Liverpool No.4 has been involved in 17 clean sheets to help his team mount challenges in four competitions.
The latest, a 2-0 Champions League win over Internazionale at San Siro on Wednesday night, saw Van Dijk named Player of the Match by UEFA following a dominant defensive display by the Dutchman and his teammates.
Inside Milan: Inter 0-2 Liverpool
Writing in his programme notes for today’s Premier League meeting with Norwich City before the trip to Milan, the manager said: “I can look back to our last Premier League fixture, away to Burnley. It was a brilliant display of character and game management from the players.
“There were some big individual contributions as always, but it was the collective effort which meant we left one of the most difficult away trips with all three points.
“I do want to make a mention of our number four, our centre-half. The level Virgil has performed to this season has been incredible. When you factor in what he’s returning from, it’s even more remarkable.
“It was always clear, because the surgery was a complete success, that Virg would be absolutely fine medium and long term. But the truth is, given everything that happened the level he is at so quickly is a surprise, to be honest. Well, I’ll correct that: it would be a surprise were it not Virgil.
“I’d have to check but I think it’s been 16 clean sheets this season so far for games he’s been on the pitch for. Not conceding in a game isn’t the only marker for a defender’s form, but it is important.
“I only bring this up because I think there is sometimes a danger that certain players can be taken for granted. Externally I mean – never internally, we would not allow this. Often this is due to the expectation they’ve set themselves from previous performance levels or maybe a failure to appreciate that the role they’re performing benefits the team over themselves.
“As a manager and coaching staff we never judge a player’s value on moments that go viral via social media clips. For every assist and goal there is a contribution and sacrifice elsewhere on the pitch that’s just as important. To have a successful team you must first have a balanced team.
“What distinguishes Liverpool supporters, in my view, is they have that knowledge and education to appreciate the players who sacrifice just as much as those who generate headlines. It’s so important in a successful team environment.”
Pick up your copy of the matchday programme at Anfield or order online here.