Not a lot has been made this season regarding the ridiculous consistency Virgi van Dijk is able to replicate on a weekly basis.
The UEFA Player of the Year has maintained the devastating level of form as last season that saw the big Dutchman take the globe by storm and deservedly dominate the continent’s greatest individual accolades.
Statistics can form a fundamental role of football analysis; they can hint at marginal gains, even reveal something that you hadn’t noticed before, or become the basis for a more detailed player, team or tactical discussion.
Van Dijk,28, has shown he is so much more than a defender for Liverpool following his £75m [BBC Sport] move from Southampton in 2018 and recent data from the Premier League Player Stats highlights his key contribution this season.
The Ballon d’Or runner-up currently ranks highest for most completed passes (2,051) and has completed over 300 more passes than anyone else in the English top-flight.
Whilst it is hardly a surprise that an ever-present, ball-playing central defender, who turns out for a side who average the second-most possession per game in the Premier League (58.2 per cent), is on top in this individual data chart.
However, the fact the gulf between him and everyone else is actually more of a chasm may cause a double-take. Van Dijk’s ability to utilise the ball from the back has added a new element to his all-but perfect individual game.
Van Dijk’s normalised weekly brilliance has meant that his extraordinary consistency is overlooked and the grandeur of his performances can be taken for granted outside the walls of the Anfield confinement.
His array of passing borders belief with his effortless technique to execute 60-yard passes without breaking a sweat. When Liverpool dispossess their opponents, their primary intent is to break away on the counter-attack at devastating speed, but if not, they’ll reset with a pass back to Van Dijk.
Also, the fact that Trent Alexander-Arnold (1,708) and Andrew Robertson (1,687) have the second-most and fourth-most passes in the league, respectively, underlines the strategy.
Sadio Mané and Jordan Henderson are rightly dominating talk for the PFA Player of the Year prize but but the chatter rarely seems to embrace Van Dijk, the reigning champions of the accolade.
Crucially, Van Dijk has remained an ever-prsent figure for Liverpool and has played every minute of all 25 league games to date [2,250] having managed 3,385 minutes in the last campaign.