The return of Virgil van Dijk from injury will make Liverpool a ‘different animal’ reckons former Arsenal midfielder and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson.
Writing in his column for the Daily Star, former Arsenal midfielder turned pundit, Paul Merson, has backed Liverpool to bounce back strongly after last season, due to the return of defender Virgil van Dijk.
The Reds endured a difficult 2020/21 campaign as they were blighted by several injury issues over the course of the season in defence. Van Dijk, perhaps, was the biggest miss for Jurgen Klopp & co., as the Dutchman was sidelined for the season after he picked up a serious knee injury in October last year.
With Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also succumbing to injuries soon after, Liverpool were left beleaguered in defence and were forced to dip their toes into the January market for reinforcements.
While the Reds huffed and puffed their way to a third-place finish, Merson believes that van Dijk’s return will have a transformative effect on the team ahead of the new season.
“Liverpool will be a different animal with Virgil Van Dijk back. He gets them pushed up and playing on the halfway line. Last season was a wake-up call for them and they will be massive contenders this time around. I think they will sign players too, and the front three will be fresher. They will have a point to prove,” the Sky Sports pundit wrote in his column.
Van Dijk has been with Liverpool for over three years now, having arrived in a club-record deal in January 2018 from Southampton. The Dutchman has played a huge role in the way the Reds have been able to turn their fortunes around in recent seasons. With him at the back, the Merseyside giants have won the UEFA Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup and the Premier League title – their first one.
His absence was dearly felt last season, especially when the likes of Rhys Williams and Ozan Kabak, both of whom lacked a great deal of experience, took the field. Van Dijk, though, has recovered from his injury after having been forced to miss the UEFA Euro 2020. The Dutchman is slowly being eased back into action by Klopp and could be a huge difference-maker for the club for the years to come.