Jurgen Klopp has admitted he was thrilled by how his new signing Virgil van Dijk coped with the awkward situation on his return to Southampton on Sunday. Van Dijk played the full 90 minutes at St. Mary’s on his first return to Southampton since leaving them in a £75million move at the start of this year.
The Dutchman produced a near faultless display as Liverpool ran out comfortable 2-0 winners at the St.Mary’s on Sunday. The defender was predictably jeered by certain sections of the crowd from the first whistle of the game but looked unfazed throughout, keeping the Southampton attackers at bay.
Klopp believes Van Dijk did admirably well to deal with the hostile reception on his first return to his former club.
“He did really well and dealt with the situation fantastically,” Klopp was quoted by The Sport Review.
“We had a little talk before the game and I asked, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘No, I’m fine boss’. I don’t want to make him nervous if he isn’t nervous and obviously he wasn’t and that’s good.
“I understand everything in football; the crowd is there to make life difficult for the opponent but I think it was not too difficult for him from this point of view and I’m happy about it.”
First-half strikes from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah earned us a comfortable victory at the south-coast but it was the solid display from our defence, especially Van Dijk, which caught the eyes. The Dutch defender has had his fair share of problems since joining the Reds last month but against his former club, he dished out a commanding display.
Although Southampton rarely threatened, Van Dijk alongside Joel Matip were up to the task, with goalkeeper Loris Karius also impressing with a couple of saves on Sunday. Overall, it was a fine day at St.Mary’s and if we give Van Dijk regular chances and time, I find very fewer reasons to suggest why he can’t become a top defender.
The 26-year-old is a good defender with solid tackling and game awareness. But if he wants to take his game to the next level, the former Celtic man would need to perform consistently and show Klopp that he is the real deal at the club.
It’s great that our club now has a centre-back who doesn’t press the panic button.