Premier League • England

Van Dijk told he can do ‘much more’ for Liverpool by copying standout team-mate’s trait

Virgil van Dijk challenging Alessandro Bastoni

Virgil van Dijk can have an even greater influence on Liverpool by using and sharpening his attacking attributes, according to Marco van Basten.

The Dutch defender has proved a fantastic signing for manager Jurgen Klopp since his 2018 arrival. Alongside goalkeeper Alisson Becker, the pair ultimately transformed the Reds from a top-four team to a title-winning team.

Van Dijk, in particular, has become a standout leader for Liverpool. He has earned praise from a number of pundits for his success in one-on-one battles and his aerial presence.

This term, the 30-year-old has reclaimed his Liverpool place following a serious knee injury last campaign.

According to Netherlands legend Van Basten, though, his fellow countryman could do “much more” to help Liverpool.

The 57-year-old urged Van Dijk to focus more on his attacking threat from long-range passing. What’s more, Van Basten insisted Van Dijk can get forward – for which fellow defender Joel Matip has made a name.

“Of course, his development has really gone from low to high, and he is definitely at the top now,” Van Basten told Ziggo Sport.

“He’s a grandiose defender and a grandiose player. He’s fast, he can head well, he has good passing, good technique and yet I do think he can still improve, especially in his presence.

“He could be controlling, use possession quicker, midfield play quicker, getting the ball forward in the right way.

“I think he can do much more, he often limits himself to playing the ball to his full-backs, but he has a great pass in him. He can dribble in, he has good technique to do it, he can be much more dominant.”

Van Dijk has proved his long passing on a number of occasions. The pass which set Sadio Mane up away at Bayern Munich in the 2019 Champions League is one such example.

And Van Basten added that Van Dijk can have a greater influence if he trusts himself with his attacking traits.

“The slower he goes, the harder it becomes for the midfielders and attackers to get that ball right to go on the attack,” the pundit said.

“He plays an important role, he needs to have that intention to go forward and to find depth, and if that doesn’t work, then go sideways instead. He’s content with what he’s doing now.”

Van Dijk leading Liverpool quadruple charge

Virgil van Dijk captains Liverpool

Despite the advice from Van Basten, Klopp will feel delighted at how Van Dijk has settled back into the team.

The defender’s knee injury last season led to fears about if – and how – he would get back to his best.

However, he has returned with 43 outings overall this season. He has also been the captain for 10 of those matches.

As such, Van Dijk’s influence is helping Liverpool’s charge for a potential quadruple this term.