Virgil van Dijk claims he has achieved nothing yet as a Liverpool player, telling ESPN FC that he ‘”expected a lot” from his world-record move to Anfield earlier this year, while adding there’s something special going on at the club at the moment.
The Netherlands captain became the world’s most expensive defender when he left Southampton for Liverpool in a £75 million deal in January and the former Celtic centre-half has quickly emerged as an integral figure in Jurgen Klopp’s team.
Van Dijk played a key role in Liverpool’s run to last season’s Champions League final, which ended in defeat against Real Madrid in Kiev, and he has also been a crucial member of the defence that has conceded just five Premier League goals this term as Klopp’s players have mounted a sustained challenge to reigning champions Manchester City in the title race.
But despite the signs of progress at Anfield during 2018, Van Dijk insists that there has to be more to come if he is to judge his move a success.
“I think I expected a lot from my move,” Van Dijk told ESPN FC in an exclusive. “I’ve expected a lot from myself, to improve as a player and as a human-being as well.
“It has been going well and good, obviously, but in the end we have nothing at this moment other than a lot of improvement and being on the right track.
“But I feel there is something going on here. We have got great momentum at the moment.
“Everyone is feeling good. Obviously we can all still improve a lot of our game, but like I said, there is definitely the feeling that we are on the right track.”
Despite making headlines because of the huge fee which Liverpool were forced to pay Southampton for Van Dijk, the 27-year-old’s performances on the pitch have ensured that the figure is now barely mentioned.
But while he admits that he has grown as a player at Anfield, Van Dijk accepts that his fee could still be used against him if he fails to maintain his consistency.
“Obviously it can turn in like a second,” Van Dijk said. “If things are not going well, then people will talk about that [transfer fee].
“But it is something that I can’t obviously manage, so I just need to accept it.
“I am very proud that Liverpool paid that much for me to come and play for their club. The only thing I need to do is work hard and work well for the club.
“But I am progressing myself as a player, with different tactics, different environment and a lot of pressure in every game where you need to win is something that I like and what I love to do.
“That is why I started playing football as well I think.”
Van Dijk’s late shot against Everton on Sunday led to the stoppage-time goal by Divock Origi which gave Liverpool a dramatic 1-0 win and kept them from falling off the pace in the title race.
The top two appear to be pulling away, but Van Dijk claims that it is too early to discount the threat of Arsenal and Chelsea in the title race.
“I don’t see it as a two-horse-race,” he said. “If you look at everyone around us, Chelsea, Arsenal, then everyone has been doing brilliantly so far and it’s going to be very interesting.
“It will be very difficult, but we need to look at ourselves. That’s the only thing, what is best for us.
“I don’t think it [late winner against Everton] means anything at this point. The thing is, we have so many games still to play and so many difficult ones for everyone in the league.
“Obviously, we want to keep winning, keep doing what we’re doing and we need to look at ourselves, that’s the most important thing. Then we’ll see if it’s going to be close.
“We believe in each other, we know what we are capable of, we know we are very difficult to beat and very difficult to get a result from.
“But to score in the dying seconds if always something special, and especially in the Merseyside derby.
“Obviously, we all have a lot of ambitions, we all want to win things, but I think it’s too early to look too far ahead.
“We just need to focus on the game that we have coming and don’t look too far ahead.”