Monday 19 November 2018

'Everybody can say what they want but I am working hard' - £75m man Virgil van Dijk ignoring the critics

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk was unhappy
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk was unhappy

Carl Markham

Liverpool's club-record signing Virgil van Dijk expects his every move to be scrutinised but insists it does not concern him.

The Holland international became the world's most expensive defender a month ago after his £75million move from Southampton but has been viewed as the answer to the Reds' problems at the back for much longer than that.

Because manager Jurgen Klopp was prepared to wait six months to get his number one transfer target there is a huge expectation on the Dutchman to provide an instant fix.

While he has already made a difference in the four matches he has played, Van Dijk is still far from his best having missed a large part of 2017 through injury - but accepts his price tag and reputation make him a target.

"I can't do anything about that. Obviously, there are so many eyes on me but I am just keeping my head down and playing," said the centre-back.

"Everybody can say what they want but I am working hard every day and I am getting back to where I need to be with the help of everyone here. I am just doing my thing.

"I have been out for eight months - last January until September really - and I didn't play at Premier League level.

"It is not easy to come back, especially when I have made such a big step as now with all the eyes on me and they look at every small detail.

"Other people will talk and have their opinions. There is nothing I can do about that. You are always going to be judged but it is not like it is something really strange at the moment.

"I know because I made such a big step right now, for a lot of money, everything is going to analysed.

"No-one is going to look at the good things that you do. Everybody is going to watch the bad things and that is how it is. But I will discuss it with the people who want to make me better, who can make me better, that is the manager and the players around me.

"If they think it is right that is good then that is the way forward."

Van Dijk's arrival has strengthened Liverpool's bid to secure a top-four spot and his availability for the Champions League, which starts again next week with a trip to Porto, is an added boost.

The Dutchman has made 19 previous appearances in Europe's elite club competition, scoring two goals for Celtic, and he is confident they will be able to secure a place for next season.

"It is tight and every game is a final, they are games that we need to win and want to win and we should have won (in the 2-2 draw against Tottenham). We were unlucky.

"I am full of confidence that we will definitely get there. It starts next week for us again."

Van Dijk is aware it is a considerable step up to play for the five-time winners and he is still getting used to the difference in style from former club Southampton.

"That is pretty clear - the football we play, the pressing, the different options with players it is totally different," he added. "You need time to get used to everything but I am working on it every day together with the team.

"I am talking with the manager and everyone who can help me out. I want to improve and get the maximum out of myself and that is what I am going to do."

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport