Virgil van Dijk theory emerges as Liverpool star criticised for ‘protecting himself’
Speaking to TalkSport (h/t Express), former Liverpool player Danny Murphy has pointed fingers at Virgil Van Dijk’s recent performances and claimed that the defender is protecting himself from injuries and therefore does not fully compete with his tackles.
Van Dijk suffered a horror injury in October 2020 in the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton, spending ten months on the sidelines and Murphy believes the psychological effect of the injury is still present in the player.
“He’s not up to his [previous] level. The injury, which is a huge one and he’s come back from, although he’s not had problems in missing games I think psychologically he’s not in the same place.”
Virgil Van Dijk’s signing from Southampton is regarded as one of the best transfer deals for the club, as he straightaway elevated the team to a level above and allowed Jurgen Klopp to create a dominant team.
He was instrumental in the Uefa Champions League win and Premier League win the following seasons with his name thrown around in the debates of whether the Dutchman is the greatest Premier League defender of all time.
However, since he has come back from the injury, the 31-year-old has not looked the same as before and that has reflected in the team’s performance.
Liverpool has had a very ordinary start to the new season with nine points from the first six games and the team’s defence has been caught out on more than one occasion.
Van Dijk has been particularly criticised for failing to close down attacks which were evident in the UEFA Champions League final loss to Real Madrid and most recently to Crystal Palace and Manchester United.
The moment where he failed to close down Jadon Sancho before he scored to make it 1-0 at Old Trafford last month frustrated a lot of Liverpool fans. It was unlike the Van Dijk we have come to see.
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It is crucial that the staff takes the performances of the Dutchman into consideration and analyse the psychological effect of the injury suffered and work its way towards regaining the defender’s confidence.
If the situation is not solved quickly, we could see the season derail in the opposite direction with many speculating the title race is already over for us.