Virgil van Dijk opens up on key reason he snubbed Man City and Chelsea to join Liverpool

Posted Sunday, July 05, 2020 by

Virgil van Dijk opens up on key reason he snubbed Man City and Chelsea to join Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk opens up on key reason he snubbed Man City and Chelsea to join Liverpool (Image: GETTY)

Virgil van Dijk has opened up on the reason he picked Liverpool over Manchester City and Chelsea two years ago, having been a huge part of the Reds' European and domestic successes since then.

Virgil van Dijk has revealed the crucial role Jurgen Klopp played in convincing him to join Liverpool amid the lure of rivals Manchester City and Chelsea. When then-Southampton defender Van Dijk agreed to join Liverpool in December 2017, Pep Guardiola's City were sat top of the Premier League table with 19 wins and a draw from 20 games, while Chelsea - then managed by Antonio Conte - sat in third.

The Reds were fourth but a chasmic 20 points behind league leaders City after just 20 matches of the season, while Chelsea were four points in front of Klopp and co.

Liverpool's problem was obvious - their defence. They had conceded at least seven goals more than the three teams ahead of them and as many as nine more than City.

That included a 5-0 defeat to the Citizens and a 4-1 hammering at Tottenham, while in the Champions League group stages they had surrendered a three-goal advantage to draw 3-3 at Sevilla.

The Dutchman's transformative impact since his £75million club-record move in the 2018 winter window has seen Liverpool since become the tightest defence in England's top flight, helping them to win the Champions League last term and the Premier League this season.

But it all could have been very different, and Van Dijk credits Klopp for helping convince him to pick Anfield over the Etihad or Stamford Bridge.

“I had the chance to go to Chelsea and Man City," Van Dijk, named the PFA Player of the Season last year, admitted.

“When you compare the clubs, you look at the history, the town, the current squad, their plans for the near future.

“But the most important thing you look at is the manager – and Jurgen Klopp is an important reason why I chose for Liverpool.

“Klopp has something special. Is it his energy? Is it his overall image?

“I sometimes sit and think about what he does and what he has more than others.

“I think it is his man management. These days that is more important than anything in football.

“Klopp gives you this great feeling. He is genuinely happy when you walk into the club in the morning.

“It may sound daft, but that really inspires you as a player.

“He gives every player a hug after the game. It might be a really small detail, yet it feels good for every player.

“And the next day, he can hammer you in front of the squad in training.

“But then you accept that too. Because you know it is not personal. That way he can demand a lot from us.”

Netherlands captain Van Dijk has now picked up four trophies since joining Liverpool two-and-a-half years ago and will hope to continue picking up silverware next season.

And he insists key to the Merseyside club's success on the pitch have been Klopp's demands off it.

“All the stories about his (Klopp's) training, the way he has made us so much fitter are true," he continued. “I call it the German style, running, running and running.

"And when you think you are done, more running. Never in my life I have had to train so hard.

“I remember the three training sessions a day in France. No media, no fans, just us on our own.

“And on top of all that physical hard work, we were getting drilled in meetings, with tactical talks. Those went on and on.

“When I finally got home, I was totally kaput. But I have to admit, I have seen the benefit of it all throughout the season.”

Van Dijk has not missed a single Premier League match over Liverpool's last two seasons, during which they have conceded just 47 goals in 70 games, of which they have won 58, racking up 183 of an available 210 points.

In that time, Van Dijk has scored eight times - making him the club's top scorer in the league after their front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

And the towering centre-half has clearly loved his time at the club, adding: "I have always said that lifting the Premier League trophy would be a dream. That dream has become reality now.

“It is hard to explain when this club means. You have to feel this club, experience it, taste it.

“Of course I knew about Liverpool before I came here. Who in the world doesn't?

“You have a kind of picture of the club from a distance and you imagine it is something massive.

“Once you first play against Liverpool, like I did when I was at Southampton, things start to sink in.

“The stadium, the people, You'll Never Walk Alone. All that is absolutely fantastic.

“And yet, you are still bewildered and surprised by the sheer magnitude of the club once you sign a contract here.

“And even after that it takes time to take everything the club stands for on board.”

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