Virgil van Dijk has battled back from a season-long injury and is now looking to help Liverpool claim the Premier League title, but has taken issue with the assumptions made following his return
Virgil van Dijk claims it was “taken for granted” that he would again return and immediately hit the heights he achieved before his horrific injury.
The Liverpool centre-half spent nearly the entirety of last season on the treatment table having hobbled off in the Merseyside derby in October 2020.
He was scythed down by Jordan Pickford and sustained cruciate ligament damage.
For many, the Dutchman was the best central defender on the planet, often looking composed and assured at the back.
Inevitably questions were asked when Van Dijk didn’t appear to be at 100 per cent following his return and the 30-year-old believes getting back to his best was never going to happen overnight.
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“It was always going to take time from the pre-season until now,” he told the Daily Mail.
“I feel very good. I think the winter break really helped me, to get away with my family, to get some time to really switch off, not to think about football and the pressure we are all under.
“I felt a little bit taken for granted at times, like people were acting as if nothing had happened and everything was normal.
“I had to really switch off and get myself clear in my head and make sure I told myself that everything that is happening right now is quite good and be proud of it.
“It isn’t really normal, after the injury I had, to be able to already play that amount of games and the level I had already reached, in my opinion.”
Van Dijk admits there was an element of pressure sinking in as he aimed to continue producing for the Reds, but felt his best displays were somewhat overlooked.
He added: “The games before the break, I felt I had good games but to keep that consistent level and also the level that everyone expected of me was always like a pressure.
“It was a thing that played a part in my head a little bit, not much but still…
“Even if I had a good game, I felt like no one appreciated it as much as they should.”
Van Dijk’s Liverpool influence remains startling, since his arrival they have won 50 per cent of the game without him but almost 75 per cent when he’s been present.
“I have nothing to prove,” insists the Dutchman. “That’s not because I feel I am the best version of myself. It’s more that I know I can get better.”