The continuing success of Virgil van Dijk

8th March 2023

In what was one of the most important signings in the history of the club, the arrival of to Liverpool in 2018 resulted in the club achieving success on the global stage.

The club initially received criticism for the then-record £75 million fee for a defender they paid for the Dutchman's signature, with many in the football world gawking at the figure.

However, it didn't take long for van Dijk to repay the money in spades as his second season at culminated in a UEFA trophy.

Five years on from his debut, the towering centre-half is unequivocally one of the best defenders in the history of the and the surprising aspect of it is that his story is still being written.

Changing Liverpool's fortunes

Photo credit PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Liverpool struggled defensively in Klopp's first two seasons at the helm, with the German's gegenpressing at full effect with plenty of goals scored and plenty conceded.

The likes of and Ragnar Klavan were never the defensive stalwarts that were going to shore up the backline, making the of van Dijk (at whatever cost) imperative for Liverpool to make that next step.

After signing in the January transfer window, the Reds conceded just nine goals in the last 13 league games of the season, compared to 29 in the first half of the season.

His impact was felt instantly as the club secured Champions League football yet again and made their first final in the competition since 2007, albeit losing 3-1 to in the finale.

Despite the , it was obvious the trajectory the club were on after bringing in van Dijk who was immediately the leader of the defence.

Success in the form of trophies

It wasn't long before the plaudits the Dutch national received for transforming the Liverpool defence soon turned into praise for leading the side to trophies.

Starting with the Champions League trophy in 2019 after a 2-0 against league rivals , the club went on to win every competition they competed in, completing a clean sweep of honours in a historic period for the club.

The star defender has also had his fair share of individual , winning PFA Players' Player of the year and Player of the Season for his performances in the 2018-19 season.

He's also been included in the FIFA FIFPRO World 11 on three occasions – 2019, 2020, and – the same amount of times he's also been selected in the PFA Team of the Year (2018/19, 2019/20, 2021/22).

At 31 years old, van Dijk has at least four to five years at the top level and that can potentially be stretched to his late 30s, similar to Thiago Silva, due to his IQ and reading of the game.

The Dutchman is a modern-day legend for Liverpool and it'll be a long time before fans witness a player of his stature and what he was able to achieve.

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