100 % tackles won
92.4 % pass accuracy
10 successful long balls
9 aerial duels won
“Take a walk around my centre half, gentlemen, he’s a colossus”. These were the words from the great Bill Shankly when he signed Ron Yeats, a herculean defender who was more than just a figure in the defense for Liverpool. However, the above stats happen to be of current Liverpool number 4, Virgil Van Dijk against Crystal Palace, who would probably be best suited for the quote as of now.
Liverpool have been a team under transition since the departure of Rafa Benitez but as of recent times, they happen to be a force. While some experts may still regard them as an out and out attacking minded outfit, there is more than just the attack that has won Liverpool games since the beginning of the 2018-19 Premier League campaign.
Liverpool have conceded only one goal from their first 4 games of the season, a stat they could boast of. The credit for the transition from a leaky defensive side to a rock solid back four has to go to the the Reds winter acquisition Virgil Van Dijk. When Van Dijk signed for the Reds for a 75 million price tag, fans and critics were pretty skeptic about how the defender would fair considering the amount of cash manager Jurgen Klopp had splashed on the former Saints defender.
However, Virgil was an instant hit among the Kopites following his winner against Everton that too on his debut. A debut goal in the Merseyside derby had to be the perfect start for the Dutch centre half but Virgil is more than just the ordinary tall centre half who heads in the odd goal from the set pieces.
It’s been quite some time that Liverpool has had a leader in their defense. A leader who shouts out instructions for his full backs to track back while they speed down the wings to join the attack. He leads by example, be it in terms of lunging into tackles or winning his headers against forwards who are equally good in the air. The man seems to be a technician who has studied his manual of defense with great concentration and seems to close every gap that is present in the line of defense.
In a team that lines up with Salah, Mane and Firmino in the attack, to be adjudged man of the match even in a single game itself is a feat considering the the amount of goals these three forwards share among them and this stands in regard that Virgil did not score against Crystal Palace but put up a display that was nothing short of his colossal defensive abilities. But their is another side to his defensive attributes, while he is not defending Virgil Van Dijk also has a trick or two to pick the right pass for his forwards and some of his aerial balls happen to be a treat to the eyes for any viewer.
As of now, things have been pretty good for big VVD as he has kept more clean sheets than any other player in the Premier League since his debut for the Reds. And his numbers have earned him comparisons with the likes of Jaap Stam and Sami Hyypia. However, the main accolade that adds the feather to his crown is the credit that his fellow defender Joe Gomez gives him for helping him improve. Gomez who has been partnering Van Dijk in the absence of Lovren in the heart of the defense has also improved massively and gives a fair share of it’s credit to Virgil. With a set central defensive partnership and alongside the immense squad depth, a lot of bookies have their money on Liverpool for the Premiership this season as they compete against the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea for the title and one player who definitely holds a key hole is Virgil Van Dijk.