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Stats show that Virgil van Dijk has lost his infamous 'aura'

Ryan Sidle

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Stats show that Virgil van Dijk has lost his infamous 'aura'

Virgil van Dijk has seemingly had a poor start to the season and now the stats back up the idea that the Liverpool forward has dropped his standards.

There is little doubt that Van Dijk has been one of the best defenders in the world in recent years, with Michael Owen even going as far as claiming he's the best centre back ever.

Whilst most wouldn't have gone that far, the Liverpool defender has certainly lived up to the price tag that made him the world's most expensive defender for a time.

However, this season things have not gone as well for the Reds, or the 31-year-old defender and he has come under increasing scrutiny.


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The criticism started in the opening weekend draw against Fulham, amped up for his part in Jadon Sancho's goal in the game vs Manchester United, and possibly reached their peak in the Champions League loss to Napoli.

For his part, the Netherlands defender, who was even called out whilst on international duty, has claimed that the criticism is just to drag down team morale at Liverpool, similar to Harry Maguire blaming it on people just 'wanting clicks.'

However it seems that the stats may back up those who have questioned the form of the former Southampton man, or at very least they show he's not at the top level.

According to WhoScored, the arbitrators of all stats, Van Dijk has certainly slipped in most of the major aspects of defending.

In the past two seasons Van Dijk has only had to make 0.5 and 0.6 tackles per game but already this season has made 0.7 tackles in each game.

Similarly, he was only made to make 1 and 0.9 interceptions per game in the 2020/21 and 21/22 seasons, respectively, but is already at 1.6 in the current campaign.

Van Dijk had a poor game against Napoli. Image: Alamy
Van Dijk had a poor game against Napoli. Image: Alamy

As a defensive unit, Klopp's side, when Van Dijk plays, have only managed 0.3 offsides per game in the league, whilst previous seasons have seen them catch opponents 1, 1.2 and 1.3 times every 90 minutes.

Again, it shows how much more defending the team are having to do, as he's made 0.6 blocks per game, when in previous seasons it's been as low as 0.1.

One of the great things about having Van Dijk in the team for Klopp is also the defender's ability with the ball at his feet, but even that's not working as well.

For one, Netherland's legend Marco van Basten claimed the defender was a 'weird' player and didn't take enough incentive with the ball.

The stats certainly back up the fact that he's not as good as passing, or at least as effective, as he was in previous years.

At his best, Van Dijk was supplying 0.4 key passes a game, with a pass success rate as high as 90%, in the 2020/21 campaign.

Van Dijk was blamed for Jadon Sancho's goal. Image: Sky Sports
Van Dijk was blamed for Jadon Sancho's goal. Image: Sky Sports

This year, so far, he's only laid on 0.1 key passes in each match and has dropped to just an 87.1% success rate on his passing, which is his lowest since he was at Southampton.

Those criticising the defender definitely have the stats to back up what they're saying about him, and it looks like it's nothing to do with team morale.

It doesn't make him suddenly not one of the best defenders in the world but opponents will definitely start seeing that 'aura' around him less, if the figures continue in their current direction.

Having been at such a high standard for the past couple of years, it's no surprise that he's had a recent drop off in form, now it's about how long that lasts for.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Virgil Van Dijk, Premier League, Liverpool

Ryan Sidle
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