Ex-Liverpool man tells forward to ‘keep playing in unloved position’; explains Van Dijk’s struggles

Lewis Oldham
Liverpool star defended by pundit

Ex-Liverpool player Markus Babbel has leapt to the defence of Virgil van Dijk as the Dutchman has “had to keep playing” when “he wasn’t 100% fit”.

Van Dijk has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world during his time at Liverpool but his form has dipped this season.

The Netherlands international has been made to overcome injury issues in recent years as he missed most of the 2020/21 campaign after sustaining a serious ACL problem.

Babbel thinks Van Dijk has struggled with injuries this term and this means it’s been “difficult for him to get into the rhythm”.

“Virgil had to keep playing, even though he wasn’t 100% fit, because Klopp had too many injured players in defence. It was difficult for him to get into the rhythm,” Babbel told Wettfreunde.

“If you’re completely out for half a year, then you need a few months to exploit your full potential again. He would certainly have needed a few regeneration phases, but he was almost never able to get them. That’s why I say: Big compliments for the last 7-8 match days, that was great.”

“Who would have thought a few weeks ago that Liverpool would be competing for the Champions League places until the very end. Hats off. This final sprint gives a lot of confidence for the new season.”

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Babbel also thinks Darwin Nunez has “needed some adjustment time to get used to the Premier League.

“One must not forget that [Nunez] is still a young player and that he needs some adjustment time to get used to the Premier League,” Babbel added.

“In addition, with Luis Diaz, Cody Gakpo and Mo Salah, Liverpool have four rockets and Nunez has to keep playing in his unloved position. Add to that the fact that he moved to Liverpool when things weren’t going well for the Reds. The expectations of him were incredibly high, as well as the high transfer fee.

“It wasn’t easy for the boy. He must not be measured by the fee. I think it was a great transfer. He’s on the right track. He will find it easier next season.”

On Liverpool’s midfield, he continued. “I can imagine that they are looking for a seasoned midfielder to replace James Milner and could sign up a hopeful.”

“They also have great talents in their own ranks like Curtis Jones or Harvey Elliott, who have repeatedly attracted attention, as well as Stefan Bajcetic. Liverpool will be superb midfielders in 2023-2024.”

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