The Liverpool centre back has been told that he is not the same player since his anterior cruciate ligament injury that he suffered in October of 2020.
Van Dijk’s 20/21 season was abruptly ended after a horrendous challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
After a seven month lay off, Van Dijk returned for Liverpool last season and was a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s quadruple chasing side.
Image Credit: AlamyHowever, the Anfield club have so far endured a difficult start to the new season, sparking rumours that Van Dijk is no longer the same player that he was a few years ago.
According to former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy, the Netherlands captain has failed to reach the heights of his old self.
He said on talkSPORT: “He’s not up to his level. Before his injury he was arguably looking like one of the best centre-halves we’ve ever seen.
“The injury, which is a huge one and he’s come back from, although he’s not had problems in missing games, I think psychologically he’s not in the same place. What I mean by that is not wanting to be as physically engaged with players and tackles.”
Image Credit: AlamyMurphy added: “He’s playing within himself a little bit and protecting himself a little bit without knowing it. I’ve played with players who have had ACL injuries before and when they come back you can see them doing it.
“I think there’s maybe a little bit of staying out of trouble. You could argue the way he plays he doesn’t get himself in that much trouble anyway. But there is always that thing in the back of your mind when you’ve had a bad injury, I think.”
Image Credit: AlamyAfter the recent 0-0 draw with Everton, Van Dijk spoke about his team’s struggles.
He said: “It’s about winning games, and we didn’t win as much as we would like to.
“We have 32 games left and everyone can have their opinion but we have players coming back from injury and hopefully everyone can stay fit and we try to get some wins.”
Image Credit: AlamyThe 31-year-old added: “The expectation is high, we are one of the biggest clubs in the world so that will always be the case so we have to enjoy it too.”
Next up for Liverpool is a tricky away tie against Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday night.