Defending can be a tricky thing for even the best of players… unless your name is Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutch defender has been an utter revelation for Liverpool since joining the Merseyside outfit from Southampton in January 2018 for £75million.
Van Dijk’s performances have been so impressive that he’s gone on to become almost universally accepted as one of the best defenders of the last ten years and certainly the best right now.
It isn’t just Van Dijk’s strength, ability on the ball, or dominance in the air that have earned him his flowers, but also his composure in tough situations.
This was exemplified in Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Brighton in July 2020, after the Reds had already wrapped up the Premier League title.
As can be seen below, Virgil dealt with a long ball in the coolest way possible, heading the ball back to himself while he was running back towards his goal, before passing it on to Andy Robertson.
As if that wasn’t enough, it seems like Van Dijk took a page out of Roberto Firmino’s book, with his ball to Robertson looking like it was a no-look pass.
Most defenders would have probably looked to hoof the ball back up the field, or play it back to their goalkeeper, but that wasn’t enough for Van Dijk.
The composure that the Dutch defender showed is simply out of this world, and is just another example of how the big man rarely gets flustered in high-pressure situations.
Perhaps more impressive than this skill is the manner in which Virgil van Dijk has recovered from the serious knee injury he suffered in October 2020.
After missing almost all of the 2020/21 season, Van Dijk returned to training during pre-season and has played all but two of Liverpool’s games so far this campaign.
Virgil has missed Liverpool’s last two games, against Newcastle and Tottenham, after testing positive for COVID-19.
Despite missing ten months of competitive football, Van Dijk has blown fans away with how comfortable he’s looked back on the pitch.
The 30-year-old doesn’t appear to have lost a yard of pace, and looks to be the dominating presence at the back for Liverpool that he was prior to tearing his ACL.