Football News

Alisson: Van Dijk “scares” the opposition for Liverpool teammates

By Chris Smith

Published: 10:54, 19 June 2019

Alisson Becker has heaped praise on Virgil van Dijk, labelling the defender as Liverpool’s “big man”.

During the 2018/19 season across international and club matches, only Leroy Sane managed to dribble past Van Dijk, doing so in the 42nd minute of November’s 2-2 draw between Germany and Holland in the Uefa Nations League.

Van Dijk’s monumental season: Five key things to know…

  1. Van Dijk helped Liverpool win the 2018/19 Champions League title.
  2. He topped Liverpool’s charts in aerial duels won (182) and completed passes (2724) in the league.
  3. This helped Liverpool finish runners-up to Manchester City.
  4. Alisson has praised the Dutchman’s leadership qualities.
  5. Van Dijk also helped the Netherlands to the inaugural Uefa Nations League final.

Along with Alisson, the 6ft 4in centre-back has played a huge role in turning Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool from Premier League also-rans and cup final bridesmaids into domestic runners-up and European champions.

And Alisson hasn’t held back in his admiration for Van Dijk, highlighting how much “confidence” he gives to those around him.

“He gives a lot of confidence for the team and the players,” he told Liverpool’s website.

“When you have Virgil van Dijk – the giant – on the pitch, maybe it scares the opposition. For me, he is special.

“I have great defenders [in front of me] – Joel [Matip], Joe Gomez, Dejan [Lovren]. Everyone did a great job this season. But Virgil has something special, he is the big man.”

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Alisson – who is Brazil’s first choice goalkeeper for this summer’s Copa America – was briefly the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Liverpool from Roma for £67m last summer, a fee which was then surpassed by Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga (£71m).

As if a Champions League winner’s medal wasn’t enough to put the gloss on his first season at Anfield, the 26-year-old also ended his debut Premier League campaign with the highest number of clean sheets (21) of any goalkeeper and admits moving to the Premier League was a “step up” for his career.

“Everything has been good. It was a great season with great moments,” he added.

“The club is top, my expectations about the club happened. I’m happy to be here with top staff, top players and top supporters. I’m very excited every day to come and work hard, to play the games, to enter the pitch and do my best for my teammates, the supporters and my family, and to try to achieve something big for this club.

“It’s not too different from the football I played in Italy and Brazil. I play for the national team so you play against every kind of player. To come here to the Premier League, for me, it was one step up for me in my career.

“I just focus in every game and every day. I work a lot to do my best and try to not feel the change that a change of city and country brings to you. I’m very happy.”