Jason McAteer believes Virgil van Dijk and Alisson are the only players in the current Liverpool squad that are irreplaceable.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are within touching distance of ending the Reds 30-year championship drought.
How good has Van Dijk been this season?
- Virgil van Dijk is the only Liverpool player to complete every Premier League game to date.
- He’s played the full 90 minutes across Liverpool’s last 75 league games.
- No one in the Premier League this season has completed more passes than him (1,987).
- He’s won 133 aerial duels, more than any Premier League defender.
- He’s helped Liverpool keep 12 clean sheets, more than any Premier League defender.
No fewer than 23 players have been used in the Premier League by Klopp with four of those – Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Roberto Firmino – featuring in every game to date.
But, from that quartet, only Van Dijk has played in every single minute. The once most expensive defender in history is currently on a 75-match streak of completing the full 90 minutes in a Liverpool jersey.
Since joining from Southampton in January 2018 he’s played a pivotal role in the Merseyside giants reaching back-to-back Champions League finals as well as cementing their status as one of English football’s two most impressive teams alongside Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side pipped them to league glory last term, but that is certain to not be the case this time around. Following their disappointing European Cup final loss to Real Madrid, the powers that be at Anfield brought Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson from AS Roma and, like Salah, his influence has been so great that McAteer feels him and Van Dijk can’t be replaced.
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“There are only two players in the Liverpool team who are irreplaceable – Virgil van Dijk and Alisson,” he told the Racing Post.
“Take either of those two out of the starting 11 and Liverpool are instantly weaker. Take anyone else out, however, and it’s a different story – and even though I am a massive fan of his, that includes Jordan Henderson.
“Jurgen Klopp has so much cover in all areas that he can afford to lose key men for periods. When he lost Fabinho earlier in the season I remember the gasps and there were plenty of people saying he’d lost the most important cog in the midfield, the heartbeat of the team. Well yes, he was a miss – but have a look at the league table.”
“I never doubted that Jordan Henderson could take on the Fabinho role because he’d done it successfully before and he didn’t let anyone down. And since then, of course, Jordan has become an absolutely central part of the team – but not irreplaceable. At least, not in terms of his playing ability,” he added.
“Where Jordan is missed – and we saw that against West Ham – is in terms of leadership. I thought Liverpool were in second gear during the first half against West Ham and Jordan Henderson would not have allowed that to happen.
“Henderson doesn’t always have the best of games and people are always quick to point fingers when that happens, but that’s not appreciating his value. When it comes to desire and character that’s when he steps up. And while there are some big characters in that dressing room, no one is bigger than Jordan Henderson.”