Article by Amy Laurence @AmyLaurence301

Following the massive £75 million price tag on Virgil Van Dijk – It’s important to consider what it actually is that he’s brought to the table and the effect of his presence within the team. Is Van Dijk all what we hoped and imagined?

Personally, I believe he’s brought bags of confidence, consistency and composure to a defence which for the most part of last season and for the beginning of this season was well on their way to being called a shambles. It’s clear to see that at the age of 26 he is a well experienced centre half. Experience stemming from captaining his national side and making 81 appearances in the Premier League have shaped him into the player he is today.

Van Dijk’s confidence has not only affected the back line, but has infected the rest of the team. We are no longer afraid to have players at the highest quality running at us as we have belief in that man to control those situations and prevent attacks to progress any further.

A key characteristic of Van Dijk’s performance is his composure. He has the ability to slow down the pace of the game in order to make the correct pass. He’s one of those players who doesn’t seem to get phased by any kind of pressure from opposing players. Admittedly, at the start of his Liverpool career I was completely terrified by his calmness on the ball – this is probably due to the fact that every other defender we have aims to get rid of the ball as soon as they recieve it! However, it works. His calmness makes you feel at ease which is why our defensive problems seem to have been silenced over the closing months of the season.

Liverpool desperately needed a well-respected and experienced player to come into the side and become a leader of the back line. He’s been to pivotal in both the Premier League and the Champions League campaign. Since his arrival a total of 6 goals were conceded in the Premier League, compared to goals conceded pre-arrival of Van Dijk which was 26. These stats themselves can illustrate the ‘Van Dijk affect’.

One player who has been positively affected by the arrival of Van Dijk is Lovren. You could say that Lovren has had a mixed Liverpool career so far. Not too long ago after our defeat at Spurs when Lovren was subbed after 31 minutes I was ready to say goodbye and welcome ANYONE else into the side. However – if you were to ask me now who i’d choose between Matip or Lovren to start alongside Van Dijk, I’d choose Lovren. His confidence has improved and his composure over the closing stages of the season. You can’t help but think that it’s due to the leadership Virgil has brought to the backline.

So has Van Dijk lived up to our expectations? It is early to say – but with what we’ve seen so far in the Champions League and the closing stages of the Premier League he has all the potential to become one of the greatest centre backs this club has ever produced.

Article by Amy Laurence @AmyLaurence301

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