Netherlands legend Marco van Basten has called into question Virgil van Dijk’s “very strange” form for the national team — despite scoring a match-winner and keeping two clean sheets in the most recent international break.
Van Basten’s words appear to have come at an unmerited time, after Louis van Gaal’s Oranje just recorded back-to-back wins this month to qualify for the Nations League finals. They beat Poland 2-0 and most recently took down Belgium 1-0, with Van Dijk netting the match-winning goal in the latter.
Virgil van Dijk news: Something “strange” about Liverpool star?
- Dutch legend Marco van Basten has questioned Virgil van Dijk’s “very strange” international form — despite Oranje qualifying for the Nations League finals.
- Van Basten says Van Dijk “does so little” for the Netherlands’ build-up play compared to his 21-year-old teammate (click here for full quotes).
- Van Dijk has kept five clean sheets in his last nine international matches for the Netherlands.
- Sky Bet are offering odds of 9/4 on the Netherlands winning the 2022/23 Nations League.
There have been some concerns that Van Dijk has looked ponderous at the back for Liverpool in the early stages of this campaign, but it was a solid international break for the Netherlands captain, who muzzled a Robert Lewandowski-inspired Poland and kept a lid on Kevin De Bruyne and Co.
Despite this, Van Basten targeted his compatriot when analysing the current complexion of Van Gaal’s squad. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though, as the Dutch immortal chose to big up Jurrien Timber, the 21-year-old Ajax centre-back, who was linked with a move to Manchester United in the summer.
After the win against Belgium, Van Basten told Ziggo Sport: “Van Dijk is actually the best man, but does the least in terms of initiative.
“It is actually very strange that such a very good player does so little for the Dutch national team in the build-up.
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“Timber is a really good build. Ajax really started to play well because of this man, and so did the Dutch national team.
“It is really thanks to him that we play so easily from the back. He is really a top player.”
Despite Van Dijk’s perceived dip in form, the Liverpool man comes out favourably this season in conjunction with his younger compatriot. Playing in a supposedly ‘stronger’ league than the Eredivisie, Van Dijk’s defensive metrics per 90 minutes appear superior to Timber. The Dutch skipper comes out on top for passes completed (77.5), Aerial duel success (75.86%), interceptions (1.5), blocks (0.7) and clean sheets (0.4).
Van Basten’s comment about Timber being able to “play so easily from the back”, though, appear to reflect in the Ajax defender’s better passing accuracy (92.5%).