Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is still yet to recovery from his ACL injury 18 months ago.
That’s the view of former Manchester City defender Richard Dunne. Speaking to Virgin Media Sport in the wake of Liverpool’s humiliation at the hands of Real Madrid this week, Dunne singled Van Dijk out as a ‘problem’ for Jurgen Klopp.
“The problem is possibly Van Dijk… They need to build a defence around Konate rather than Van Dijk,” said the Irishman.
“I don’t think he’s recovered from his injury. When players run at him, he doesn’t put a tackle in anymore. You always see him putting his hands out saying ‘someone else should have done better,’ you don’t see him intercepting anymore. There’s just a passiveness to his whole game.”
Virgil managing as best he can
Van Dijk’s form has come in for a lot of scrutiny over the course of the season. He’s a big player in Liverpool’s team, and with them struggling so badly that’s understandable.
But really, Virgil is far, far from being the problem for Liverpool.
Yes, he’s been slightly below his best at times, but who hasn’t for Klopp’s side this season? Bar Alisson Becker, no player has kept their standards for the whole campaign.
As one of the most visible players in this team, it’s only fair that questions are asked over the likes of Van Dijk. But he can’t do things alone.
The 31-year-old has struggled to find a settled partner throughout the season. With Joe Gomez and Joel Matip badly out of form and Ibrahima Konate injured, a lot has fallen on Van Dijk’s shoulders.
Those shoulders are broad enough, you might think. Given his reputation as one of the best defenders in the world, he should be able to handle it?
Well, by and large he has. Remember, Liverpool have pretty much had to get by without a functioning midfield for a lot of the campaign. Do you really think they’d be anywhere near a top four battle with any other defender than Van Dijk in the side? We don’t.
There may be some kind of truth in Dunne’s claim that Virgil isn’t fully the same player since his injury. But he’s played 77 times since then. You don’t do that if you’re struggling. Once Liverpool are back and firing on all cylinders, our No.4 will be back to his old dominating self. Just you watch.
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