Pundit says Liverpool player has been 'attacked' by critics during the international break
Photo by ANP via Getty Images

Pundit says Liverpool player has been 'attacked' by critics during the international break

Criticism of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has been way over the top during the latest international break.

Van Dijk has come in for some tough treatment from Dutch pundits Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten following the Netherlands 4-0 loss to France last week.

But speaking to ESPN FC, former West Ham United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop has shielded the Liverpool man against an ‘attack’ from his countrymen.

“Even if what Van Basten and Gullit are saying about Virgil van Dijk is absolutely true and you are trying to help the player, help the national team, there’s a way of phrasing it, there are things you avoid,” said the pundit. “I have absolutely no idea what purpose that is to serve other than to frame this as an attack. It’s an attack on a very talented player who’s having a rough time.

“They’ve made the new manager change his formation, he can’t find the same passing lanes into midfield and has a little bit of an issue adjusting early on. Holland are 1-0 down after 90 seconds, they’re two down on the eighth minute on the back of a goalkeeping error. And at that point the entire Dutch team is caught in headlights. How you put that fully down to Virgil Van Dijk is beyond me. Even if it were and you’re trying to help one of your most talented players, one of the most talented players of a generation, there’s ways you say exactly that, there’s ways you help him. This does nothing but again feeding into that Dutch self-destruction.”

Hislop leaps to Van Dijk’s defence

Although Hislop conceded that Virgil isn’t currently the best version of himself, the former goalie went on to defend him even further.

“I sympathise with Van Dijk, the period he’s going through, the criticisms he’s coming under, but we know how good a player he is,” he said.

Photo by NESimages/Geert van Erven/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

“If we were starting a club right now and had to build around a centre-back, Van Dijk would most certainly be very high in that reckoning. Because you know how good he can be. Maybe just needs that fresh start and some kind of a change.”

Go and prove them wrong, Virgil!

It wasn’t just Gullit and Van Basten who were laying into Virgil over the last week-and-a-bit. Others in the Netherlands’ media pool were at it too.

There were calls for the Liverpool centre-back to be stripped of his captaincy by former player Gertjan Verbeek. A player and manager of no note at all, it’s unlikely that Van Dijk will pay too much mind to Verbeek’s comments, though.

Gullit and Van Basten on the other hand are huge names in the country, and in European football generally. For them to come out with such alarmist comments will likely have stung Van Dijk. It was completely unnecessary for them to do so. We’re with you, Virgil, go and prove them all wrong.

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