Virgil van Dijk’s five-word dressing room message gives Liverpool and FSG another big decision to make

As his jubilant team-mates bounced to the music within the dressing room, Virgil van Dijk, his winners’ medal draped round his neck, stared straight down the digicam and delivered his message.

“They thought I was finished,” mentioned the Liverpool captain, earlier than a shrug of the shoulders and a realizing smile into the lens.

Meanwhile, deep inside the bowels of Wembley, Jurgen Klopp was going through the gathered media throng when requested in regards to the colossal contribution of the centre-back to the Reds’ exceptional League Cup triumph in opposition to Chelsea.

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“Virgil van Dijk from the first day since he stepped into Liverpool FC is absolutely outstanding,” mentioned the Liverpool supervisor. “But you anyway in his lesser-good moments go for him like he didn’t want to perform. ‘Why is he like that?’. Sorry, they’re human beings, it happens from time to time.”

Certainly, questions had been requested, for the primary time in his Liverpool profession, of Van Dijk throughout a troublesome opening half to the earlier marketing campaign that culminated on his return from the World Cup by selecting up a hamstring harm that sidelined him for greater than a month.

A crimson card firstly of the present time period at Newcastle United prompted extra whispers. Was Van Dijk, lengthy celebrated by many as the very best centre-back of his era, on the slide?

The subsequent proof has been a powerful adverse. Van Dijk might not be fairly as quick or have the identical response time as beforehand – at 32 years of age, that is comprehensible – however he has efficiently tweaked his sport to accommodate the change in himself and the strategy of the workforce.

Being handed the captain’s armband has additionally had a reinvigorating impact, Van Dijk so far revelling within the further duty and, because the season has progressed, more and more stepping up when required.

Never has that been extra clear than on Sunday. As nicely as marshalling a defence that, admittedly partly due to the heroics of Caoimhin Kelleher in purpose, had been ready to resist Chelsea’s attacking risk, the Dutchman additionally delivered within the opposing penalty space. Having had a header contentiously dominated out on the hour earlier than, with solely two minutes of additional time remaining he glanced a right-wing nook from substitute Kostas Tsimikas into the far nook for the dramatic winner.

Van Dijk’s celebration unwittingly highlighted the significance of his management. After a small jog earlier than collapsing on to the turf, he was first met by Tsimikas. After that, although, got here James McConnell, Jayden Danns, Jarell Quansah and Bobby Clark, who between them had totalled a sum of two Liverpool appearances between them earlier than the beginning of the marketing campaign.

Quansah, as a fellow centre-back, has benefited from the expertise of that includes alongside and coaching commonly with Van Dijk. But the requirements set by the captain are being felt all through the membership, notably the subsequent era. His real aura conjures up others, whether or not by means of his performances or persona.

By being named the official man of the match on Sunday, Van Dijk additionally broke new floor. After claiming the same accolade within the League Cup last triumph in opposition to Chelsea in 2022 and the Champions League victory over Tottenham Hotspur in 2019, he grew to become the primary Liverpool participant to be given three such awards. Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Steve McManaman every have two.

Fenway Sports Group, then, should make a brand new contract for Van Dijk a precedence. The defender is approaching the final 12 months of his present deal and, no matter who replaces the outgoing Klopp, will certainly stay an integral a part of the squad. Any workforce would profit from having the Holland worldwide.

Van Dijk is not completed. And by way of a trophy-lifting Liverpool captain, he’ll hope to solely simply be getting began.

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