Virgil Van Dijk established himself as one of the best defenders in the world after winning the UEFA Champions League and the English Premier League within two years. He was one of the missing pieces in the Liverpool squad, along with Alisson, that prevented Klopp from fighting titles. The defence was always an issue in the past years for the Reds. It was frustrating to see the lack of good defenders and how it affected them in crucial matches. Liverpool FC betting was also affected when he was injured.
Before his arrival, the duo of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren was good for Liverpool, but not the best. They lacked some elements. After Liverpool signed Van Dijk, he has significantly helped Liverpool to improve their defence. He was literally like a wall in front of the goal, and in the next season, when they signed, Alisson from Roma gave Van Dijk more confidence as they had a world-class goalkeeper.
Van Dijk’s aerial duel is one of the best in EPL. In 2018, he had a 76% win rate in aerial duels, and it was the top in the 2018-19 season. After signing for Liverpool, he helped the team to keep to sixteen clean sheets. The number of clean sheets was more than the number of goals they conceded.
Now let’s look at how the injury of Van Dijk was a major blow to Liverpool. He was injured in the Merseyside derby against Everton in October 2020 after a foul from Jordan Pickford. Later, the tests showed that his anterior cruciate ligaments on the right knee were damaged, and he will be out for more than ten months. After losing their crucial defender, Gomez was also injured. It created more headaches for Klopp, and the defensive issues were popping up in Anfield.
It was pretty clear that the injury to the Dutch player was one of the reasons why Liverpool was not able to be the title contender. The football pundits predicted that Liverpool would retain the Premier League, but the injury turned the hopes upside down.
After ten months, the club announced the return of Van Dijk to the squad. It was a huge relief to see him back from the beginning of the new season. He came in as a substitute against Norwich City in the first Premier League match. After the game, Van Dijk admitted that it was an emotional return, and he would have shed tears when Klopp hugged. Later, he also said that it was a relief to be back in the squad.
Liverpool had kept six clean sheets this season when he played and has not lost a single game. The Van Dijk effect!