Van Dijk become the world’s most expensive defender when the Reds splashed out £75m for his signature in January 2018.
The Dutchman came straight into Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI, helping them reach the final of the Champions League in his first few months at Anfield. Van Dijk started the 2018/19 campaign off the way he ended last season’s as he helped Liverpool keep a clean sheet in their 4-0 win over West Ham on Sunday. And BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks was impressed with the 27-year-old’s desire to motivate his team-mates when the Reds were 3-0 up against the Hammers. “Liverpool’s game against West Ham was no longer a contest after 55 minutes,“ Crooks said. “The home side were 3-0 up and their forwards had the Hammers by the throat. “Meanwhile Van Dijk was telling his fellow defenders, in no uncertain terms, that nothing short of a clean sheet would do. “That’s the difference between Liverpool prior to Van Dijk’s arrival and the team that currently exists. “Moreover there’s something of the Alan Hansen about the way he conducts himself on a football pitch. “Apart from the obvious stature, the Dutchman always looks composed, elegant and plays with his head not just his heart.”
A brace from Sadio Mane, and goals from Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge ensured a comfortable three points for the Reds with West Ham struggling to create many chances. Many expect Liverpool to be the biggest challengers to champions Manchester City in the race for the title, but Van Dijk has played down the hype surrounding his team at this early stage. “We’ve seen the media writing about us as the new champions and stuff but we don’t really look at those things,” said Van Dijk. “We need to just focus game by game. “We want to do well. We want to achieve greater things so we need to be ready for any challenge, any battle that comes to us. “We are very well prepared, we were looking forward to this game and I think everyone could see it. “For us it is key that we don’t look too much at other teams. We need to look at ourselves and be ready every week for any opponent we face.
That is key at the moment.” Liverpool will be looking to make it two wins from two when they take on Crystal Palace next Monday (8pm).