Liverpool star Van Dijk responds to scathing attack from Gullit over his ‘clumsy’ defending

Joe Williams
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk looks over his shoulder

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk thinks Ruud Gullit’s recent criticism was due to the former Netherlands international holding him to “high standards”.

The Reds have been going through a difficult season with Jurgen Klopp’s side currently seventh in the Premier League table with 15 matches still to play.

Their poor form this term has been even harder to take because of Liverpool coming so close to an unprecedented Quadruple last campaign.

Van Dijk was a key part of their success last season and in previous campaigns but he and other players have had a dip in form this season.

Liverpool have struggled to get a settled team out this season with Klopp using Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip and Nat Phillips at various points this season.

But Dutch legend Gullit was not impressed by Van Dijk’s defending against Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema during Real Madrid’s 5-2 victory over Liverpool at Anfield last week.

Gullit said: “Van Dijk puts his hands behind his back like a speed-skater and he bends his knees like speed-skaters do,” Gullit said. “His body is leaning forward. He kind of kneels down in his moves and only has his hands behind his back so he avoids a handball when the striker shoots. That, for me, is too easy – and it looks clumsy.”

Responding to Gullit’s comments, Van Dijk said: “I have nothing to say on that. I set high standards. People try to hold me to that so that’s what I try to do.

“Coming back from the big injury and then being out for six weeks is tough so playing three games for 90 minutes is something I’m very proud of and have worked hard for.”

Former Manchester City and Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne thinks Van Dijk is now an “actual problem” for Liverpool.

“Everyone’s been looking at the defensive side of Liverpool in terms of [Joel] Matip and Gomez and Van Dijk needing a partner,” Dunne told Virgin Media on Wednesday night.

“But the actual problem is possibly Van Dijk. I don’t think he’s recovered from his injury. I think when players run at him, he doesn’t put a tackle in anymore.

“You always see him putting his hands out and saying someone else should have done better, but you don’t see him intercepting anymore, you don’t see him winning balls on the halfway line, you don’t see last-ditch tackles, there’s just a passiveness to his defending.

“He’s one of those players where you think eventually he’ll recover and get back to where he was, but there’s a couple of seasons now where there’s no real sign that things are changing and the odd time he’ll nip in and win the ball back.”

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