Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp does not expect to see the best of Virgil van Dijk until next season
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp does not expect to see the best of club-record signing Virgil van Dijk until next season and admitted the defender was not “match fit” when he first arrived at Anfield.
Van Dijk became the most expensive defender in history when he joined Liverpool from Southampton for £75m in January.
The 26-year-old scored on his debut for the club against Everton in the FA Cup but could not prevent Liverpool from suffering back-to-back defeats to Swansea and West Brom, and he was subsequently rested by Klopp for the 3-0 win over Huddersfield on Tuesday.
Liverpool vs Tottenham
February 4, 2018, 4:15pm
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Klopp has urged Liverpool supporters to remain patient with Van Dijk and expects the Netherlands international to improve as the season progresses.
“I’m very happy with him but there will always be ups and downs,” said Klopp ahead of Tottenham’s trip to Anfield on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
“We will see the best from Van Dijk after the summer. We don’t have the time to wait until then, why should we?
“He can bring a lot of things in already and that is good. We have had a lot of talks, it is quite difficult, our defending is different to Southampton. He has to get used to it.”
Klopp admitted Van Dijk was struggling for full fitness after arriving from Southampton.
“When Virgil came here he wasn’t match fit, that is the truth,” said Klopp.
“He had a long injury, then he played, then he was injured. Then the transfer was an open case and he didn’t play for Southampton, so it wasn’t a consistent season.
“I haven’t known him long enough to say ‘yes you can play all the games in this moment’. He expected it, he is still a new player.”
Van Dijk was one of three players, along with Danny Ings and Nathaniel Clyne, to be added to Liverpool’s Champions League squad on Friday and Klopp is happy to have the trio available for the latter stages of the competition.
“Clyne is still not in team training but he is close,” said Klopp. “He is in a really good way. It will probably take quite a while for him to be ready to play, though.
“There is no chance for him to play against Porto but I hope he will make an impact [later in the competition], along with Ings.
“These European squads are an unbelievably difficult decision. You have injured players, players who cannot make it, there are always hard decisions.
“But I’m happy that they are now in the squad, it is good.”