According to former Reds full-back Glen Johnson, Virgil van Dijk’s recent troubles may be more the fault of the Dutchman’s teammates than of the defender himself.
Since his £75 million transfer from Southampton to Liverpool in 2018, Van Dijk has been a behemoth at the back for the Reds and is an important part of a team that has just won the Premier League and the Champions League.
The 31-year-old, though, has recently appeared woefully out of sync.
But while Van Dijk’s performance slump and Liverpool’s underwhelming start to the season have coincided, Johnson has sprung to the former Celtic player’s defense.
And the former Liverpool star, who made 200 appearances during his own six-year tenure, thinks that Van Dijk’s recent difficulties are a result of those around him.
Ibrahima Konate’s absence, who is presently injured, has also been accountable for several significant defensive slip-ups in recent weeks and hasn’t capitalized on his chance to shine.
Johnson also emphasized that if Van Dijk faltered in any manner, his sterling standards that he has established over the past four and a half years would leave him open to criticism.
Johnson said to Genting Casino that Van Dijk has set the standard so high that he will inevitably draw criticism following a few subpar performances.
“He’s not performing to his previous levels, but it might also be the people working with him.
He may be losing focus because he believes it to be too simple. You don’t lose your quality over night, and he’ll be fine once he puts his head back in the game.”
Johnson’s assessment differs from Danny Murphy’s, who asserted earlier this month that Van Dijk was still dealing with the terrible anterior cruciate ligament injury he sustained in 2020.
Van Dijk was sidelined for more than nine months due to the injury, which he received in a collision with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Murphy also said that while Van Dijk is back to where he was physically prior to the injury, the center-back is still having psychological problems.
He stated to talkSPORT: “He’s not at his level. He may have been one of the best center-backs we’ve ever seen before his injuries.
Even though he hasn’t had any issues missing games because of the significant injury, I believe his psychological state has changed.
That refers to his desire to be less physically involved with players and tackles.
There may be some staying out of trouble, in my opinion. You may counter that the way he plays, he doesn’t get into too much trouble.
But when you’ve suffered a serious injury, I believe that thought is constantly present at the back of your mind.”