‘Every little beauty flaw is seen as a grave error’ – Liverpool star Van Dijk is defended from harsh criticism

Joe Williams
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk runs after the ball

Former Denmark international Kenneth Perez thinks critics of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk are seeing “every little beauty flaw as a grave error”.

The Reds centre-back has come in for a bit of stick this season with Jurgen Klopp’s side struggling in the Premier League.

Van Dijk has been widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world over the past few seasons but the Liverpool star has failed to keep up his high standards this term.

He was criticised over the past week for his role in the Netherlands 4-0 loss to France in their opening Euro 2024 qualifying match with former FC Twente and Feyenoord boss Gertjan Verbeek calling him a “first class wimp”.

Verbeek said: “I think Van Dijk is a first class wimp. I would immediately take away his captain’s armband.

“He has to mean a lot more as a captain. He has to put things down. It happens to him. At one point he lets Lutsharel Geertruida drown and then he stands there after the first goal, like: blablabla. Where was he then?”

And legendary Netherlands duo Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit tore into Van Dijk for “creating chaos” and “thinking he’s better than the rest” against France.

“He makes noise, but he doesn’t say anything,” Van Basten told Ziggo Sport.

“He is not clear. A good captain thinks aloud, makes it clear what is going on. He stays in between. He creates chaos. That leads to misunderstandings. That is what you, as a captain, must prevent.

“In the dressing room he is good, football tactically and technically not. You need another gentleman on the field. This has nothing to do with that injury, this has to do with leadership. He makes noise, but he says nothing. That’s true. This is in you. This is wanting to win at all costs.”

On the Liverpool defender, Gullit added: “It’s walking backwards. In England they have already criticised him. He was selected for the world team of the year. He thinks he’s better than the rest.

“We see things… Then I think, ‘you are captain, you have to solve this’–. But he’s just commenting a little on what’s happening in front of him.

“I don’t know if he’s doing it, but it doesn’t look like he’s speaking. He plays so safe. Come on now, you’re so big and good. It is a positive criticism that we give. Isn’t he the best? Then show it.”

But Perez reckons Van Dijk’s critics are making a bigger deal out of his mistakes because of the high levels the Liverpool defender has reached in the past.

“I don’t agree with that at all,” Perez told ESPN’s Football Talk (via Sport Witness).

“He has set the bar so incredibly high that every little beauty flaw is seen as a grave error. He was fantastic every game in a two-year period.

“Nobody got past him, he was never injured… Nobody dared to look for him anymore, because it was hopeless anyway.

“To say he can’t do anything anymore and that it’s too little… He’s at a slightly more normal level now, he’s been at such a high level. That was the benchmark, but nobody can sustain that his whole career.”

READ MORE: Van Dijk nonchalance leads to extremes as arrogance confused with decline