After a successful career with Groningen, Celtic, and Southampton, Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool in January 2018 to lead the backline. Together with Allison Becker, he turned weaknesses into strengths.
However, a serious injury sustained in the 2020-21 season overshadowed his absolute one-on-one strength, and his career seems to have passed its peak.
Nevertheless, he still manages to organize defenders with superb leadership, and his accurate long feeds and height on corner kicks make him a threat to opponents.
He has not been able to show what he did for Liverpool in the Dutch national team, and his performance has been poor since the return of Ronald Koeman.
Even in the Nation League, which was held in their home country, they failed to make the most of their geographical advantage, losing to Croatia and Italy.
This result has upset Ruud Gullit, who has made his mark not only with the Dutch national team but also with AC Milan and other clubs. He targeted Virgil van Dijk and Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona) and lamented their lack of leadership.
“I have been looking for arguments to defend [manager Ronald] Koeman and the internationals in the Nations League. After all, I have also been a player and you do not like this to happen in a big football event organised in your country. After a tremendous fight, I can’t defend Koeman and his players. Did you feel like going on vacation?”
“Despite the fact that they are idolised by some people in the Netherlands, often to loud applause, I find that these two important players do not measure up when necessary. They do not reach the level that can be required of them as decisive international leaders. I think Van Dijk and De Jong don’t have leadership skills,”
“Actually, I’m asking them for something they don’t have. They need more attention to their own game. It’s difficult for a coach to work without leaders on the pitch and it’s supposed to be that Van Dijk and De Jong should be those leaders,”De Telegraaf