Virgil Van Dijk was one of the poorest performers in Liverpool’s loss to Manchester City and the Dutch defender has come under heavy fire after the 4-1 defeat.
The centre-back has been having a really difficult season and his problems are about to multiply after Saturday’s loss. Van Dijk had a rating of just 5.9 out of 10 and while everyone’s come out to bash him, the 31-year-old has found an unlikely supporter in Rio Ferdinand.
In the past, Van Dijk has been compared to legends like Terry, Vidic and Rio but now his leadership qualities have come into question. However, according to Ferdinand, the defender’s footballing skills should be the main focus at the moment.
“I’m not sure about his leadership skills, he has never really been one to win the armband, with others ahead of him, and that’s probably not his strongest attribute,” he told BT Sport, as quoted.
“We’re not on the pitch. Does he communicate enough? Only Liverpool players can tell us that.
“When they were flying, no one questioned him as a leader or a talker. It’s more important to look at decisions he is making on the pitch as a footballer, and that clip we showed there is about decision-making. At the highest level, the best players make the best decisions to impact the game. On today’s performance, in that once incident, he could have done a better job.
“But also, you are playing against a City team who were in great form today. They ask you questions, and if you can’t answer immediately, you get punished.”
Is Virgil Van Dijk past his best time?
Van Dijk has always been seen as the de facto leader in the Liverpool squad so now when things aren’t going great, his leadership skills suddenly cannot be pushed to the back seat.
Yes, his football aptitudes have also come into question but a major reason why Liverpool are losing so many games is that they look utterly confused and disoriented on the pitch and this is primarily due to a lack of a proper commander.
Now, coming to the footballing part.
Virgil Van Dijk was an instant hit at Liverpool during his first full season at the club and at one point, he was one of the best centre-backs in the world. However, a long-term injury has really impacted his performances and to make this worse, a poor Liverpool midfield has exposed his frailties.
In his first two seasons, Van Dijk was being shielded by a stellar midfield that would hardly allow the ball to reach the final third but this campaign, things have changed. The likes of Thiago and Fabinho have been really below-par so people like Trent and VVD have had to do a lot more defending.
The Dutch international needed to step up and take charge of his form as well as his team but instead, with each passing game the 31-year-old is crumbling even more.
Liverpool will go trophyless this season and if they miss out on a top-four spot then Jurgen Klopp will have to make wholesome changes. We are not suggesting that Van Dijk be dropped to the bench immediately but the manager needs to make him realise that he cannot place in the start for granted.