Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has confessed that he has been left stunned by just how good Virgil van Dijk has turned out to be.
The Reds made Van Dijk the world's most expensive defender at the time when they signed him for £75m in January 2018, so expectations were obviously very high, and Van Dijk has repaid that faith by finishing second in the Ballon d'Or race and leading Liverpool to Champions League and Premier League glory.
"I'm not sure if he needs another hour of praise," Klopp said. "He's good, pretty good. He's a good centre-half. No, he's special, his combination of skills is special, his mindset – on top of that – is special.
"This makes him a pretty good centre-half and a good guy as well, which I like a lot. I would work with him as well if he was a little more difficult to be with, but he's really low maintenance.
5 - Virgil van Dijk has scored his fifth league goal of the season, his most in a @premierleague campaign; since his debut for Liverpool in January 2018, the Dutch defender has scored more goals than any other centre back in the competition (9). Towering. pic.twitter.com/pNEHs9PvD4— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 26, 2020
"He's really nice to have. We knew when we signed him we'd get a really good player, but the package is so special, and we had no idea about that. That makes him really, really exciting."
When pressed for an explanation as to how Van Dijk could physically cope with playing every minute of every game, Klopp joked: "He takes his breaks in the games from time to time, which drives me crazy.
"But I get it, I get it. It was his big target, I think, that he could do that again. Hopefully that will be possible for the rest of his career. That would be absolutely special. We've tried to rest him but it's difficult. So far, it's went well, and we hope it stays like this, but now he has two weeks off as well, so he doesn't need more, I'm sure."
Van Dijk's position in Liverpool's defence is obviously safe, but the Reds are understood to be considering a few minor changes to prepare themselves for the challenge of defending their league title.
Dejan Lovren is expected to head to Zenit St Petersburg, which could prompt a move for a new centre-back. Brighton's Ben White and Schalke's Ozan Kabak have both recently been suggested as potential targets, but Klopp could choose to turn to academy youngsters like Sepp van den Berg or Ki-Jana Hoever instead.
Source : 90min