UEFA Champions League: World-class Van Dijk key to Liverpool's hopes of stopping PSG

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The Dutch centre-back will need to be at his best to thwart PSG's talented forwards and ensure Liverpool take a huge step towards the knockout stage

When Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool last season during the winter transfer window, a lot of questions were asked and a lot of doubts were raised over Jurgen Klopp’s decision to shell out a fortune to bring home the defender from Southampton.

After a lot of turmoil and negotiations with The Saints, Liverpool finally signed the Dutchman for a world record fee of £75 million for a defender in January 2018.

The record transfer tag was bound to bring a lot of pressure on the player but Van Dijk has only thrived in Jurgen Klopp’s side ever since. 

After an impressive performance in the second half of last season, the expectations reached a crescendo given that The Reds had finally got the world-class centre-back which they had longed for a long time. 

Since Jamie Carragher’s retirement, Liverpool have had several central defenders and some of them were really influential. However, defensive lapses have plagued Liverpool ever since Jurgen Klopp took over. 

Last season, the arrival of Mohamed Salah made Liverpool’s attack one of the best in the league. But they continued to ship in goals at an alarming rate which forced Klopp to buy Van Dijk at any cost. And the ball-playing centre-back has fit in seamlessly while adding a measure of solidity to Liverpool's backline. 

The suggestion now is that the 27-year-old is among the world’s best centre-backs – but does that bring an added layer of responsibility?

“I think at a club like Liverpool you always feel a bit of pressure,” said Van Dijk. “You should. But it doesn’t bother me."

Mohamed Salah Virgil van Dijk

The Dutch defender has played all the 13 matches for the club this season and has helped them keep seven clean sheets and conceded just five goals in the Premier League - a league-best defensive record alongside Manchester City

In all this, the 27-year-old’s ability to hold and play with the ball has shone through. 

Virgil van Dijk has been a pillar in Klopp’s defence and has become one of the top centre-backs in the Premier League as well as in the world.

He will play a crucial role on Wednesday night when Liverpool travel to Paris to take on star-studded Paris Saint-Germain in a crucial UEFA Champions League Group ‘C’ clash. After all, containing an attack which boasts the likes of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe takes a top-class defender. 

And that is exactly what Van Dijk is!

“I don’t have any fear,” said the Dutch international. “We respect them (PSG) as a team but the thing is we want to win the game. We are going to totally up for it, motivated and we will make sure we are ready from the start.

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“We don’t need to forget that we are one of the best teams in Europe as well. We reached the final last year and we want to do at least the same this year. That’s our goal. So we are going to try, try and beat them.”

Liverpool fans will look up to him in order to stop the famed PSG attack once again.

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