Liverpool assistant manager hails ‘nearly a perfect package’ van Dijk
LONDON – Five years on from his transformative signing for Liverpool on Jan 1, 2018, Reds assistant manager Peter Krawietz hailed centre-back Virgil van Dijk as “nearly a perfect package”.
The Dutchman, 31, helped the Reds end a long English Premier League title drought in 2020; reach the Champions League final three times, winning it once.
He also helped Jurgen Klopp’s side win every trophy possible during his half-decade at the club – including the FA Cup, League Cup and Club World Cup.
He has also amassed a host of individual accolades, including the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season and Uefa Men’s Player of the Year Award. He was narrowly beaten to the 2019 Ballon d’Or by Argentina star Lionel Messi.
Liverpool have won over 70 per cent of the games van Dijk has played in, with 145 wins in 204 appearances.
Krawietz told the club’s website: “We faced Virgil when he was playing for Southampton and it was quite interesting.
“When I tried to analyse Southampton and how to beat their last line I always thought: ‘Come on, yes, he’s a big, tall guy, a good centre-half, but there must be a way to beat them and to outplay’. Actually, it never really happened...
“He has a mixture of skills and naturally given talents. He is unbelievably tall but at the same time he is unbelievably quick, which is a pretty rare combination.
“His way of understanding defending, giving security to all the guys in front of him and around him, is just outstanding....
“Virgil is also a brilliant football player. His passing skills... or if he’s stepping in and dribbling into free spaces, and of course everybody knows his long passes as well, the big diagonal balls – are a proper weapon for us.”
However, ahead of the trip to Brentford in the English Premier League on Monday, van Dijk warned that Liverpool have to improve on their “poor” performance in the 2-1 win over Leicester City last week.
He said: “We were very poor today but it’s... very important to win these type of games, that’s the positive.
“Now we have to recover, improve and prepare for Brentford... There are plenty of things we have to improve... At times we were maybe too quick and then we lose the ball and it’s a bit too open, and they can play.”
One of his fellow defenders, Trent Alexander-Arnold, admits his defending has not always been the best this term.
He told Sky Sports: “I’ve not helped myself in certain situations throughout the season, I’ll hold my hands up to that.
“Sometimes you’re up against a world-class winger and he is going to get the better of you, but I think there’ve been times where I could have done better.”
In bad news for Liverpool, in-form Brentford striker Ivan Toney could feature despite suffering a knee injury last week. Bees boss Thomas Frank said: “He could potentially be available”.
However, Kristoffer Ajer, Shandon Baptiste and Aaron Hickey are expected to be unavailable.
Arthur, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Curtis Jones are expected to miss the match for Liverpool but James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho could be back. New signing Cody Gakpo is available to make his debut.
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