LAGOS, Nigeria ( VOICE OF NAIJA)- Virgil van Dijk happens to be the same now as he ever was. No doubt he’s still in control aerially and makes plenty of telling clearances and interceptions.
The Dutchman is one of a number of key players whose form has dipped this season – but should the Reds be concerned that his best days are now over?
Virgil still carries himself with coolness and composure, spears those wonderful, left-to-right diagonals out to Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
To his eternal credit, he still fronts up after games. Win, lose or draw, it is usually the Liverpool midfielder who stops in the mixed zone to give his thoughts to the waiting media.
In other words, that was the case at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. As the rest of his teammates made their way silently, past the phones and the dictaphones – as well as the bizarre coterie of autograph hunters – towards the sanctuary of the team coach, it was left to Van Dijk to pick the bones out of the Reds’ latest disappointment, the latest setback in their seemingly doomed quest to secure Champions League qualification.
“Very frustrating,” was his assessment of a 4-1 defeat which laid bare all of his side’s current frailties. To lose to Manchester City is acceptable, to lose in the manner Liverpool did is not. There would, Van Dijk revealed, be some “hard talking” between players and staff at Sunday’s post-match debrief.
In many ways, to watch Van Dijk this season is to watch Liverpool, individual struggles and frustrations mirrored by collective ones. The question, for both team and player, is whether this is a temporary dip or a permanent one.