Virgil van Dijk has admitted that Jurgen Klopp extracts the very best form out of him by ‘being critical’.
The Netherlands international has been in imperious form ever since completing his £75 million move to Liverpool in January 2018, the Reds reaching back-to-back Champions League finals and having a much improved defensive record since Van Dijk’s arrival.
Last season, Van Dijk became just the third defender in the Premier League era to pick up the PFA Player of the Year award after the Reds conceded just 15 league goals, the 28-year-old also among the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or.
However, speaking at a press conference on international duty, the Dutchman has said that his best form is brought about by Jurgen Klopp downplaying his individual performances.
“I have a very similar connection with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool as I had earlier with Ronald Koeman at Southampton and I still have with Koeman with the national team,” he told the media.
“Like Koeman, Klopp knows exactly how to get the best out of me – by being critical. When the media are hyping me and being very positive, he will downplay the praise all that – often with a wink.
“When I was voted UEFA Player of the Year recently and had to go to the awards ceremony, Jurgen told all the lads at Liverpool that I was picking up the trophy on behalf of the entire team.
“All the boys in the squad know I can take that sort of stuff very well.
“I know what he means. At the same time, the boss gives me a lot of respect and responsibility.”