Sport Soccer

Saturday 21 April 2018

Virgil van Dijk says he still has room for improvement at Liverpool

Since his arrival from Southampton, Van Dijk has kept four clean sheets in his 10 appearances to date.

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk

By Carl Markham, Press Association Sport

Liverpool’s club-record signing Virgil van Dijk insists he still has improvements to make despite making an immediate impact on his side’s defence.

Since his arrival from Southampton for £75million, the Holland international has kept four clean sheets in his 10 appearances to date but his overall influence on the team has been much greater.

Critics suggested the Dutchman would not cure all their problems at the back and, while there are still some things which are not as manager Jurgen Klopp would like, Van Dijk is confident they will be ironed out over time as he and the team around him improve.

Asked whether the settling in period had been easier than anticipated, he said: “Quicker than I might have thought? I don’t know.

“Obviously you come here with expectations and you want to play as soon as possible and as much as possible this season and be as fit as possible and quick as possible.

“Now I’m getting better and better and the understanding with all of the players is getting much better. I’m just playing my game and trying to help my team.

“What per cent am I now? That’s difficult. But I’m completely over the ankle problems (which kept him out for long periods in the last year), definitely.

“It’s more than that, it’s also just condition-wise and the way Liverpool play you need to be spot on. That’s pretty clear right now.”

Van Dijk has been touted as a potential captain by new Holland manager Ronald Koeman as he assembles his players for the international break.

The centre-back is keen to focus on friendlies against England in Amsterdam on Friday and Portugal in Switzerland two days later before allowing his thoughts to turn to a potentially huge couple of weeks when domestic football resumes.

It begins with a trip to struggling Crystal Palace as Liverpool look to strengthen their place in the Premier League top four and is then followed by a Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City – sandwiching the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.

“You don’t think about that when you’re heading off with the international team. You’re giving everything for your country, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

“It’s a big period for us as a country, we have been in transition, we have a new manager, and it’s going to be totally different now and I’m looking forward to meeting up with the guys. We play England as well, so it’s going to be good.

“We can prepare for that (the Champions League) when the time comes.

“Everybody knows that anyone we get is going to be very hard. Man City is a very good team, very hard to play against and we need to be 100 per cent or even better to beat them over two games.”

Press Association

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