has hit back at his critics after the Liverpool star came under fire from Dutch legends Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten.
The centre-back has for the past few years been considered one of the best defenders in the world but this season he has struggled for form, something that has affected Liverpool’s results.
And things haven’t gone much better on the international scene, with Van Dijk captaining the Netherlands as they collapsed to a 4-0 defeat to in their opening qualifying game last week.
While the whole team was slammed for the loss, the 31-year-old came under heavy scrutiny, with icon Gullit telling Ziggo Sport: ‘We are positively criticising Virgil van Dijk.
‘He is part of the [FIFA] Team of the Year right? He got his nice award right? Then show yourself to us! If he’s still worth it? Everyone believes so, but I don’t.’
Van Basten, who the won the Euros alongside Gullit in 1988, chimed in, adding: ‘A true captain thinks out loud and makes the situation on the pitch clear to everyone.
‘But Virgil van Dijk is always stuck in between. He creates chaos which creates misunderstandings on the pitch. You should avoid this as a captain.’
The Netherlands returned to winning ways on Monday night with a 3-0 victory over Gibraltar and Van Dijk took the time to respond to his critics, saying their comments were: ‘Of no use to me. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion these days, that’s the case.
‘Did I set the bar unrealistically high? How is that possible? It was never perfect, consistent is the right word.
‘We’ve had a lot of success with the team. Football players, they know that better than anyone, have high peaks and deep lows.
‘It’s quite normal that you can’t always play consistently. That you have a phase as a club or player where you are looking for your level. People should not forget that.
‘It is normal that people make mistakes, that it is part of football and that it is very human. Regardless of who gets a platform and is allowed to say what, so that things are made big. You know better than anyone when you are doing something right or not.’
When the international break is over, Liverpool will look to save their season by finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League, but it will be a difficult task.
The Reds are currently sixth, seven points off fourth-placed Tottenham, albeit with two games in hand, but face Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their first three games back.
‘These are difficult times at the club, also with ups and downs, Van Dijk added.
‘I am very positive about the future and try to play my best game ever every game. We are not robots. Let’s not forget that. Maybe people sometimes forget that.’
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