“Tonight is the reason, why he (Klopp) spent £75M on van Dijk.” remarked Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football after the Reds’ triumphed 2-0 over a resilient Crystal Palace side.
The numbers say it all, since joining Liverpool in January for a world record fee, Virgil van Dijk has helped shore up an error-prone Liverpool defence by keeping nine clean sheets in the Dutch international’s 16 Premier League appearances for the club.
The Reds have not conceded a goal at Anfield in the Premier League since February and also have kept the most number of clean sheets in the English top flight since his arrival.
Jamie Carragher dubbed van Dijk as “best centre back in the Premier League” and attributed that these exceptional performances could aid the Liverpool Number Four to a legendary status among the Liverpool greats.(1)
He ticks all the boxes of being ‘The Complete Center Back’ in terms of presence, pace, strength and calibre on the ball. Standing tall at 6ft 4in, his ability to win aerial duels accompanied with his aerial set-piece threat, not only justifies his price tag but also furthers his potential to become the ultimate defender that Liverpool fans have craved for since a considerably long time.
Ever since his winner debut goal in January against Everton in the FA cup, van Dijk has gone from strength to strength by raising the bar for being a Liverpool player. Helping Liverpool to another top four finish last season, van Dijk embodies the definition of a leader who is commanding, hard working and formidable.
His contribution to Liverpool’s positive start to this season has not gone unnoticed. Speaking to the media after the Reds’ victory at Selhurst Park, Klopp was full of praise and belief on the Dutchman’s performance and price tag, which Klopp believes is starting to look cheap off the back of such performances, “I don’t know a lot of defenders in the world that can defend Christian Benteke 100 percent of the time, clearly without a foul,” the German said, “It was very important that Virgil was there with that kind of presence. [His performance] was really, really good. It’s obvious. Quality costs a specific price. With cars it’s the case, and with players too. Nobody thinks about it now. He’s a player in this market who is worth it, and maybe now people think he was too cheap! He loves playing with these boys, and that’s the most important thing.”
The Liverpool defence has been strengthened with the arrival of goalkeeper Alisson Becker coupled with the integration of an ever improving Joe Gomez at center back, stability has been asserted. With an optimistic view to the new season, following consecutive top-four finishes which have already bred confidence among the Liverpool fans as the manager added strength in depth, and personality, to an already tight-knit squad. Virgil van Dijk could be key to LFC’s journey to something great this season.