‘He will become a leader’ – Rio Ferdinand claims Liverpool defender ‘grows’ when extra pressure is placed on him

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Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has claimed that Virgil van Dijk can ‘become a leader’ at Liverpool after the Dutchman captained the Reds in the absence of Jordan Henderson.

The Reds skipper was missing from Jurgen Klopp’s squad after failing to recover from a back injury sustained in the FA Cup defeat over Cardiff last Sunday.

“He was class today. At United, you get to a point where you start to become a leader. It brings something else out of you,” Ferdinand told BT Sport (via HITC).

“Top players deal with pressure. He grows in that role, he deals with pressure. He will become a leader.”

The former Southampton centre-half put in another impressive display alongside Joel Matip at the heart of the Liverpool defence.

Our No. 4 ultimately set up our first goal against Leicester yesterday after his powerful header was only parried by Kasper Schmeichel into Diogo Jota’s path who slammed home from close range.

van Dijk’s defensive partner Matip then set up our Portuguese forward with a clever assist in the second half and the No. 20 sealed all three points with his second strike of the game and 12th Premier League goal of the season – only teammate Mo Salah has more (16).

With Henderson not in the squad and vice-captain James Milner only finding a spot on the bench, van Dijk stepped up and did throw in an impressively dominant performance.

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But he doesn’t need the armband to be a leader, ever since he arrived at Anfield in January 2018 he’s been one of the most important players in the squad and has a hugely positive impact on his teammates.

The 30-year-old now appears to be returning to his best form since he suffered that nasty knee injury against Everton back in 2020 – long may his solid showings continue as we look to close the gap on Manchester City at the top of the table, we’re once again nine points behind Pep Guardiola’s side with a game in hand still remaining.

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