Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has now shared the real reason why his form dipped earlier this season.
Speaking with the Liverpool Echo after the Reds picked up three points against Wolverhampton Wanderers last night, the 31-year-old relayed how his injury troubles have been exacerbated by the amount of football he played last season.
“Coming back from the knee injury, I played all the Premier League games, I think (last season), because everybody wants to be out there, I want to be out there. That’s what I’m working hard for,” said Van Dijk.
“What caught up [with me] is that I played too many games at a time. When it’s game-day I want to play, I’ll do everything possible to play, but I could have also thought before the World Cup: ‘Let’s rest a little bit in order to be ready’.
“But I didn’t because I want to play and I want to be influential for this football club because I love this club and I work each and every day to be successful for this club. But it caught up with me unfortunately, my body, I’m not a robot, and I think going into the World Cup, having the World Cup, and then doing nothing for a week and coming back, it was maybe not the right decision.
“But at the end of the day these things happen, they could have not been happening and I would still be playing. I would say that everything that happened, happened for a reason, and this six weeks was a good chance for me to reflect, but also let my knee settle a little bit and get ready for the rest of the season. It was a tough six weeks to watch because you want to help the team and especially with a hamstring injury you have to be very patient. Patience is not in my vocabulary, it’s not in my system, but I had to.”
Van Dijk has to be patient with his injury recovery
Although fans understand how important it is for the Netherlands international to rest and recover so he can return to full fitness, it has also been hard for them to see the side struggle without him – given Liverpool are so much better with him leading the back-line.
In recent weeks, Van Dijk’s form has really picked up, and that has been noticeable with the Reds’ defensive record.
Jurgen Klopp’s side haven’t conceded in their last four Premier League matches. Ignoring the defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League, the Dutchman has reinforced the defence with his leadership and his calm presence.
Without this reliability, Liverpool look shaky and rather frail at the back.
Whilst Van Dijk was nowhere near as bad as it was made out to be by members of the media, his form did admittedly drop off earlier in the season.
However, recent weeks have shown he is getting back to his best, which will come as a huge boost to Klopp.