'Laid back' Van Dijk needs to unleash his true strength and power to improve

Posted Thursday, October 11, 2018 by squawka.com

'Laid back' Van Dijk needs to unleash his true strength and power to improve

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman has criticised Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk for his nonchalant approach on the pitch.

Van Dijk, 27, has been a revelation since joining the Anfield club last January, establishing himself as the main component in the heart of Jurgen Klopp's much-improved defence.

The Reds have so far enjoyed an incredible start to the season, sitting joint-top of the Premier League table having only conceded three goals in eight outings, and Van Dijk has been integral to that early success.

However, Koeman – who signed Van Dijk during his stint in charge of Southampton in 2015 – has decided against lavishing praise on his captain, instead noting a few vulnerabilities in his Dutch compatriot's game and offering some suggestions of improvement.

"I told Virgil within 30 seconds of the end of the game against France what I thought," Koeman revealed (via Football 365).

"I know him so well – and that means I know where all his little faults are.

"Virgil has to improve. Not a lot. But sometimes he is a little too laid back. That needs to change.

"There are moments as a defender when you should be no more than three feet away from the striker you are marking.

"And, particularly in Van Dijk's case, because of the strength and power he has he is too laid back.

"On Monday, when he arrived in our training camp in Zeist, he could see from the look on my face that I was thinking about the foul he made when Liverpool played Man City on Sunday.

"The tackle cost his team a penalty and Virgil realised that he had made the wrong decision.

"It will not affect his chances with me. He is still my main man, but I want him to get better."

Van Dijk has been garlanded with praise for his languid manner and calmness when in possession, two attributes that have been absent in Liverpool's defence for some years.

Van Dijk's Netherlands face Germany in a UEFA Nations League match on Saturday, before travelling to Belgium for a friendly on Tuesday.

Van Dijk on Merseyside

Since completing his record move to Anfield's hallowed turf, Van Dijk has transformed the Reds' defensive woes, and he was crucial as the club reached the Champions League final last campaign.

'Laid back' Van Dijk needs to unleash his true strength and power to improve

In fact, since making his debut, no player has been involved in more Premier League clean sheets than Van Dijk, with the former Southampton man keeping 12 clean sheets and only conceding 12 goals in 21 outings for the club.

His importance to Klopp is unquestionable, as a ball-playing centre-back is fundamental to his 'gegenpressing' system, with the defender initiating the first phase of attacks. At Borussia Dortmund, he had Mats Hummels, and now he has finally found a new player to fulfil that role.



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