Van Dijk ‘unstuck’ with place among the greats questioned
Sol Campbell has called out Virgil van Dijk for potentially becoming complacent and questioned how good he would be in a different era.
Although the Dutchman has proven the catalyst for Liverpool’s successes of recent seasons, his form has come under the spotlight this season following a high-profile mistake against newly-promoted Leeds United in the opening fixture and now the Reds’ 7-2 thrashing at Aston Villa last time out.
Former Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal man Campbell told The Athletic:
“I know Van Dijk struggled in the Villa game, but he stands out these days because he’s head and shoulders above everyone else, which makes me wonder if that is hampering him at the same time.
“He’s the complete player in that position and has made it look easy, but maybe he’s not been challenged enough and then, like a cricketer being done by a slower ball, he’s come unstuck.
“If you’ve not been worrying about forwards troubling you, sometimes you drop your guard a fraction. It’s a natural human thing.
“Maybe that’s seeped in a bit at Liverpool in general. I’m sure Jurgen Klopp will recognise that and get them back on track.
“It would be interesting to see if Van Dijk would have stood out had he been playing in our time when there were lots of great centre-halves: me, John Terry, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Jamie Carragher, Kolo Toure, Jaap Stam.
“It’d be interesting to see how he’d fit in with all these guys. And we had Robbie Fowler, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Duncan Ferguson all coming at us in very different ways, not to mention defenders like Matt Elliott, Steve Walsh, Gerry Taggart at Leicester. Big guys flying at you at set plays.
“You had your work cut out. You had to be on it, brave in the air, because if you weren’t they were pounding you.
“They were quick, strong, tall, skillful… every week you got tested. I reckon Van Dijk would be OK, he’d cope with that, but it would be interesting to watch. He’d certainly be under pressure.”