Speaking to the press ahead of Liverpool’s match against Southampton on Friday night, boss Jurgen Klopp has given a fitness update on Virgil van Dijk and has been full of praise for the Dutch defender.
Picking up a minor knock in the final minutes of their dramatic 2-1 win over Tottenham on Sunday, the German tactician was left “hoping” that Van Dijk would be fit for their trip to St. Mary’s.
However, fans on Merseyside will be glad to know that the 27-year-old took part in Liverpool’s training session on Tuesday and Klopp confirmed that all appears to be well with their defensive talisman.
Along with confirming his fitness, the former Borussia Dortmund coach also lorded Van Dijk’s immediate impact at Anfield since making the move to Liverpool back in December 2017.
📈 – "He has improved us and improved as a player since coming here."
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 3, 2019
Playing arguably the most crucial part in Liverpool’s Premier League title charge this season, Van Dijk’s impact on Liverpool has been nothing short of colossal.
While his almost £80million price tag may have come under some scrutiny following his high-profile move from St. Mary’s, the Dutch skipper has helped the Reds keep 17 clean sheets this season and hold the best defensive record in the top-flight.
A man often in possession of Liverpool’s captain’s armband, Van Dijk’s presence at the heart of Liverpool’s defence has helped Klopp’s side hold a one-point buffer over Manchester City at the top of the table.
With many labeling him as the best central defender in Europe at the moment, Klopp has discussed the 27-year-olds impact at Anfield and spoken about how he has improved them as a club.
“I can’t say a bad word about him, a brilliant boy. But he knows that you need the boys around you. Defending is team work,” he added.
“Yes he has improved us and he has improved since he came here as well.”
“He is a different player to when he was at Southampton. Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final help you as a player.”
Van Dijk was lavished with praise following the Reds’ win over Spurs for helping prevent Moussa Sissoko net a late second for the visitors.
Stranded with Sissoko and Son Heung-min bearing down on the Liverpool goal, the defender managed to block Sissoko’s path to his team-mate and force him on to his left foot.
Sissoko blazed his shot over the bar just minutes before a Hugo Lloris blunder gifted Liverpool three points that saw them reclaim their spot in pole position.
With many expecting Manchester City to once again leapfrog the Reds when they face off against Cardiff at the Etihad on Wednesday night, all eyes will turn back to Liverpool on Friday.
Klopp’s side are undefeated on the road since their 2-1 loss away at City back in January and the mood in their camp will be on a high with a Champions League quarter-final showdown against Portuguese outfit Porto next week.
With some believing that Van Dijk’s performances should see him rewarded with the PFA Player of the Year award this year, is the Dutch defender Liverpool’s MVP?