Jurgen Klopp wasn’t surprised that Virgil van Dijk looked so good against Norwich City. The Liverpool boss saw it all coming.
Virgil van Dijk really shone against Norwich last week. And that wasn’t always a given – this was his first competitive game since October 17th last year, after all.
But the Dutchman looked awfully close to his brilliant best. There was the clean sheet, of course, but Van Dijk brought so much more than that.
He was magnificent with the ball and didn’t skip a beat. Van Dijk simply returned to where he was, knee-injury or not.
That’s impressive no matter which way you cut it but according to Jurgen Klopp, it wasn’t surprising.
Klopp on Virgil van Dijk vs Norwich
“I was not ‘impressed’ in a surprised way. It’s not like, ‘Oh my God, right, that’s him,’” said Klopp, per Liverpoolfc.com.
“He had a four-and-a-half-week pre-season, maybe five, or maybe if you put in all this other rehab as well then it was probably the longest pre-season of all time.
“But I saw him obviously in training every day, so he played like he trained before. So I was not surprised. But, yes, Virgil is a good football player and that’s why I was really happy to have him back.”
It’s incredibly encouraging to hear this. Van Dijk appears to be ‘back’, rather than still returning from injury. He’s putting in great training performances, to the point where Klopp expected him to look good vs Norwich.
You can’t really ask for more. Van Dijk is 30 and suffered a serious knee injury – there’s no expectation that he even returns as the same player.
But it sounds as though he really has. To the point where Klopp just expected him to play as he would have a year ago.
Is it enough to stop worrying about Van Dijk entirely? We’ll probably still wince at every challenge he goes into for some time. Klopp’s words, though, are enough to make us feel very positive that there’s little to worry about.