It is tough to compete for attention if you are a Liverpool player at the moment.
There are the front three of course, Roberto Firmino, all no look goals, silky skills and bright white teeth.
Mo Salah, last season Premier League top goalscorer, Footballer of the Year and general world superstar. Sadio Mane, this year’s top scorer and shining light of the Champions League Final.
Now behind them you have Naby Keita, all action midfielder who sent Andros Townsend so far the wrong way on Monday night he had to buy a ticket back in the ground.
And all the way at the back is Allison Becker, the world most expensive goalkeeper, although quite cheap if you buy him by the inch. All this and a box office manager on the sidelines who can’t stay out of the action.
But, maybe the one we should all be talking about is Virgil Van Djik. Maybe of all the signings under Jurgen Klopp, he’s the one who is having the biggest impact on Liverpool at the moment.
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The stats certainly support the argument. Liverpool have kept the most clean sheets and conceded the least number of goals in the Premier League since Van Djik came to Liverpool.
They are the only club not to conceded a goal in the Premier League so far this season. If Brighton want to beat Liverpool tomorrow they will have to be the first away team since February to score at Anfield.
It’s a daunting task, indeed.
But you don’t even need stats to see Virgil’s impact, it is clear to see with your own eyes. In the last few minutes of his man of the match performance against Crystal Palace on Monday, he made it his own personal mission that Liverpool were not going to concede.
He won everything there was to win. In stoppage time when Palace got a dangerous free kick, he was the one who rose highest to win it. He then rather cheekily asked for a goal kick. When he didn’t get it, he just shrugged his shoulders and won the header off the corner.
From which Liverpool scored on the break to seal the win. A year ago, we probably draw that game without him and no one is really moaning.
When we signed Virgil Van Djik for a world record fee for a defender, the sensible voices tried to lower sky high expectations by saying he couldn’t be expected to sort out all of our defensive problems. But, the funny thing is he sort of has.
Well, he couldn’t do anything about Karius lashing one in the Champions League final, like, but he’s sorted pretty much everything else.
The key aspects are his calmness and his authority. He makes mistakes, sure, but they just don’t bother him. He holds his hands up and gets on with his game.
For those of us who have watched talented Liverpool defenders have multiple crises of confidence over the years, Van Djik’s unflappable nature is a breath of fresh air. Nothing seems to get to him at all, his self-confidence can’t be shaken.
He also leads men who want to be led. Joe Gomez has been telling everyone he is a centre half for years, but hasn’t quite shown it. Alongside Virgil Van Djik he is allowed to relax and show his defensive skills safe in the knowledge he has a general next to him who will always stand up when it matters. A player who’ll win every battle and take everyone with him.
Gomez has looked great so far this year.
I’m not sure if Virgil Van Djik is the best central defender in the world, but he’s in the top one. If you think you have one better, then good luck to you, he must be brilliant. We’re not swapping ours.
He’s big, he’s Dutch and we like him very much. Future Liverpool captain, no doubt.
He’s look great with a European Cup…PaddyPower.com has the latest Champions League bets