Premier League • England

Klopp claims timing of key man being ‘back to his best’ could take Liverpool to next level

Liverpool pair Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk is back to his best with perfect timing for the remainder of the season, according to manager Jurgen Klopp.

The Netherlands captain was in imposing form during the Reds’ hard-fought 1-0 victory at Burnley which helped maintain their pursuit of leaders Manchester City, who hold a nine-point advantage having played one match more.

February’s Champions League restart – Liverpool go to Inter Milan this week – is usually the signal for Van Dijk to shift through the gears as the quest for trophies steps up.

And having proved he has successfully recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery to his left knee last season, Klopp now believes the centre-back has regained his superiority.

“Definitely, definitely, you can see it in all movements and everything,” he said. “We were always convinced that it would happen.

Klopp in unprecedented Liverpool position and the results could be thrilling

Klopp in unprecedented Liverpool position and the results could be thrilling

Liverpool are still in four competitions going into the business end of the season - and have the best squad of the Jurgen Klopp era to match.

“He is completely back on track, he is absolutely at his best again.

“I would say it’s good timing because the decisive part of the season is coming up now. Long may it continue.”

Robertson relishing CL return

Van Dijk’s fellow defender Andy Robertson admits the players have been eagerly awaiting the restart of the Champions League.

Having cruised through the group stage – in which Klopp’s side became the first English club to win all six matches – Liverpool will return to the San Siro two months after they were last there beating AC Milan.

In the intervening period they have won 10 of 14 matches and lost just once, in late December, and are currently on a run of six successive victories.

“Obviously the group stages to the last 16 is the biggest wait for the Champions League,” Robertson told “Once the draw gets done you get excited about it and you look forward to that challenge ahead. It’s going to be incredibly tough.

“Inter are going really well in Serie A, up fighting at the top and we’ll try to keep pushing on all fronts.

“We’ve got a tough game away first and we need to be at our best and do what we’ve been doing over the last six to eight weeks.

“If we do that, I believe we can get a positive result. But we look forward to it – an iconic stadium, an amazing stadium, I’m sure the crowd will be fantastic and we’ll bring a big away support.”

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