Gary Neville: Why Virgil van Dijk has proven me wrong at Liverpool FC

The former Manchester United right-back initially thought Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk lacked the pedigree to succeed on Merseyside but admits that he has been proved wrong

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk Photo: Virgil van Dijk / Twitter

Gary Neville has said that he was concerned about the cost of Liverpool FC’s recruitment of Virgil van Dijk but the defender’s performances since has made him think otherwise.

Van Dijk joined Liverpool in January from Southampton for an initial fee of £70.92m and since has kept more clean sheets than any other defender in the Premier League.

Van Dijk learned his craft first at Celtic before moving to St. Mary’s where the Dutch centre-half established himself as one of the Premier League’s top defenders.

Former Manchester United defender Neville predicted that he would struggle to adapt to football at the highest level.

“Van Dijk looked a massive risk to me at £75m,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“It was massive money for a centre-half who played at Celtic and Southampton.

“I didn’t think he would be the kingpin to improve the Liverpool defence.

“However, he was massively impressive and better than I thought he was.”

Van Dijk played a massive part in Liverpool’s journey to the Champions League final last year, where he played all 90 minutes in the 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid.

He enamoured himself with the Liverpool faithful with an extra-time winner in the FA Cup third-round tie with arch rivals Everton on his debut.

However, the defender has been part of a Liverpool defence who have not conceded at home since February, which provides the perfect foil for their enterprising front-three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Neville thought van Dijk’s experience at Celtic and Southampton would see him struggle on Merseyside, but the defender has been colossal.

Van Dijk can now look forward to having a top-quality goalkeeper behind him in Alisson Becker as Liverpool look to dethrone Manchester City.

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