Dutch legend urges ‘passive’ Van Dijk to ‘take responsibility’ as Klopp literally laughs off criticism

Jason Soutar
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk during a match

Ruud Gullit has criticised Virgil van Dijk for “defending passively” and has called on the Liverpool defender to “be a leader”.

Van Dijk has come under lots of criticism this week after the Reds’ embarrassing 5-2 defeat at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League.

The Netherlands captain has struggled in recent weeks, but has only just recovered from an injury.

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher slammed Van Dijk after the loss against Madrid, jokingly (I think) saying he would get into Jurgen Klopp’s team at this moment in time.

Carragher said on Tuesday: “It was nonsense, absolute nonsense that Liverpool were back in the last two games and that is why I was cautious before the game.

“Liverpool are eighth in the Premier League. They’ve just been battered 5-2 in the Champions League. I know it’s Real Madrid, but these are the two teams who were in the final last year. It’s not acceptable what we’re watching this season.

“What makes me laugh – I’m not that bothered by it – but Virgil van Dijk said I wouldn’t get in that back four about two months ago. I think I’d take his place at the moment!”

There have been some debate that the 31-year-old has not returned to the level he was at before suffering an ACL injury in October 2020.

Van Dijk is definitely not the player he once was, but this is not a stick to batter him with. He is literally 31 years old and suffered one of the worst injuries in football.

Former Netherlands midfielder Gullit has blamed his compatriot for Liverpool’s woes as the defence “is his responsibility”.

Claiming that Van Dijk’s defending style has changed since his injury, Gullit told Ziggo Sports: “Since he came back after his injury, he has been defending passively. He was defending and blocking a bit like a skater. He just didn’t go full on it.

“And of course, he can have a bad period but he has to be a leader. If that defence is not doing well, it is his responsibility.”

Van Dijk has mainly played alongside Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip this season.

Konate has been the best performer out of those three, with Gomez really struggling and Matip looking like he is on the decline.

Unfortunately for Liverpool, Klopp and Van Dijk, the French international is very injury prone and has only made five appearances in the Premier League in 2022-23.

Klopp believes his side’s poor season is mainly down to injuries and has literally laughed off criticism of Van Dijk.

“Our main issue has been injuries,” the German manager said. “And when you don’t get momentum in a season, you always have to fight against something and with players coming back from injury.

“Right now, we have Virgil van Dijk coming back from a long injury and people start talking about his quality, which is really funny. A lot of the players have similar problems and that’s the thing.”

READ MORE: ‘Disjointed’ Liverpool’s problem is clear as the Mailbox struggles to make their mind up on Klopp