Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders has heaped praise on Reds centre back Virgil Van Dijk, describing his influence on the team as ‘massive.’
Since signing from Southampton in January 2018 for £75m, Van Dijk has been immense in defence for Premier League and European champions Liverpool.
He has been ever-present in the side too, having not missed a single Premier League game in the last two seasons, and Jurgen Klopp’s No 2 Lijnders is all too aware of the 29-year-old’s impact at the club over two-and-a-half years.
‘Virgil’s influence has been massive on the team. Firstly because of his personality,’ Lijnders said, as reported by The Mirror.
‘He does not need to talk about leadership, he is showing leadership and his winning mentality in every vain of his body.
‘Secondly, his presence in the dressing room. He is such a calm figure. He is only dealing with clean sheets. He is just crazy about keeping clean sheets.’
On route to their first league title in 30 years, Van Dijk anchored a defence that conceded 33 goals in 38 Premier League games.
That thriftiness in defence set the tone and was the best record in the entire division with Manchester City, who conceded 35 goals, the next best after their second-placed finish.
‘Because of him, our opponents always face a tough job,’ the No 2 added. ‘First they have to try and get past our three strikers, who run and fight for every ball. They have been trained to handle five or six opponents at the same time.’
Van Dijk has received recognition for his consistently high level of performances too, as he was named 2018-19 PFA Player of the Year and UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in 2019.