There have been moments this season where Virgil van Dijk’s frankly ridiculous consistency have been made to look ordinary in yet another stellar season from the big Dutchman.
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Just a kid from Breda, becoming a Premier League Champion. This is a dream come true but also an opportunity for me to remind every kid in the world that anything is possible. Hard work & perseverance! Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, hate or negativity stop you from being the best you can be! Thanks to my family, fans, teammates and the whole staff! ❤️ Liverpool this is for YOU! 🏆
Having swept the board in terms of individual accolades during the 2018/19 campaign, there has been no discernible spike in Van Dijk’s Premier League statistics for last season. In fact, they are remarkably similar to the form that saw him crowned UEFA Player of the Year in December 2019.
His passing accuracy is more or less the same, with an impressive pass completion rate of 89 per cent according to WhoScored.
Despite making fewer tackles in games, Van Dijk still boasts more interceptions and his aerial duel success is the same 75 per cent. He also bettered his goal tally from last season after his headed effort on the final day saw him finish with an admirable five goals for the campaign.
So how should those figures be deciphered? Perhaps the reason for less defensive involvement in terms of tackles could be due to his efficiency of on-field movement and his uncanny reading of the game which sees him primed and ready to snuff out danger and prevent attacks from developing.
Van Dijk’s influence on Liverpool’s recent success cannot be overstated as once again the 28-year-old superstar started every one of the club’s PL encounters for a second consecutive season.
He played every minute of all 38 league matches that led to Liverpool’s procession to a first league title in 30 years. Van Dijk was once again a mainstay in the team clocking up 3420 minutes of competitive action to better last season’s total of 3,385 minutes.
That shortfall of 35 minutes ironically came against his former team Southampton at Anfield in September 2018 where the pain of a rib injury belatedly forced him off.
Instead, it feels as if Van Dijk has become the subject of being made to look ordinary due to his normalised brilliance. Such extraordinary consistency is overlooked because there is never a drop-off as Van Dijk has developed his game to a point where it is practically impossible to get significantly better.
His teammates Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all nominated for the Premier League Player of the Year accolade yet remarkably Van Dijk was snubbed from the opportunity to retain his crown.
Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, Southampton’s Danny Ings and Burnley’s Nick Pope were also nominated.
No Liverpool player has successfully retained the famous accolade nor has it been won twice by a recipient whose footballing talents are honed on L4.
Van Dijk’s consistency is off the charts and his durability in the team has seen his once world-record £75 million [BBC] transfer fee made to look like small change.
When you factor in the 14 league games following his arrival at Anfield, the former Southampton starlet has made 77 consecutive league appearances, the equivalent of just over two full seasons, and missed just 35 minutes.
It highlights Van Dijk’s unwavering commitment to the cause but also vindicates the shrewd recruitment from Jurgen Klopp and Michael Edwards as well as their outstanding team of data analytics.
The beautiful reality is that Van Dijk is undisputedly the best in the world in his particular field.
While normalised brilliance can be underappreciated by those who don’t regularly observe his work, Liverpool supporters know and understand too well just how transformative he has been to the club’s undisputed global dominance over the past 14 months.
‘He’s our centre half, he’s our No.4, watch him defend and we watch him score. He’ll pass the ball, calm as you like. He’s Virgil van Dijk. He’s Virgil van Dijk’.
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