Liverpool man ‘on his last legs’ cannot ‘handle’ the top ‘level’ as journalist grows ‘tired’ of performances

Jason Soutar
Virgil van Dijk defends against Chiedozie Ogbene.
Virgil van Dijk defends against Chiedozie Ogbene.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is struggling to look like a “leader” for the Netherlands, according to two-time Eredisivie winner Kenneth Perez.

Van Dijk first captained his country in a 2018 friendly defeat to England and led Louis van Gaal’s side to the last eight of the World Cup last year.

His form at club level has dipped over the last year or so and despite being one of the best defenders in the world for over five years, he has always divided opinion in his home country.

For example, legendary striker Marco van Basten was highly critical of Van Dijk last year, saying the Liverpool centre-beck does not influence the Netherlands team like his defensive partner Jurrien Timber does.

And the latest to jump on the anti-Van Dijk bandwagon is former Denmark international Perez, who scored 105 goals in 325 appearances in the Dutch top flight.

Perez says Van Dijk should not be the “undisputed” captain under Ronald Koeman, with Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong a more suitable skipper.

“I don’t see him as the undisputed leader of the Dutch national team at all,” he said.

“I think Frenkie de Jong is much more of a leader, to be honest, in how he presents himself and how he performs.

“He is an undisputed starter and a star player at Barcelona.

“I think ‘undisputed’ is heavily emphasised in Van Dijk. I don’t think he looks like a leader at all.”

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Van Dijk gave away a fourth-minute penalty in Sunday’s European Championship qualifier away to the Republic of Ireland.

It has been a rough start to the season for the 32-year-old, who was sent off in Liverpool’s third Premier League match of the season at Newcastle United.

After blasting the match officials at St James’ Park, Van Dijk was handed a whopping £100,000 fine and an additional one-match ban.

Another Dutchman to criticise Van Dijk for his performances for the national team is journalist Johan Derksen, who does not think the defender can handle playing at the top level anymore.

Derksen said on Today Inside: “I’m getting very tired of that captain of the Netherlands. If there is a lack of performance, he uses all kinds of cliches to explain what went wrong.

“Can he still handle the level? No, he’s on his last legs. I never thought of him as a star. He looks good, but I don’t think he’s a very good defender. He was only strong in the air.”

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