Former West Ham United forward Paulo Di Canio has claimed that he’s been unimpressed by Virgil van Dijk this season after the Dutchman returned from the serious knee injury he sustained back in 2020 and has tipped Inter Milan to ‘hurt’ Jurgen Klopp’s side in the upcoming Champions Leaguer round of 16 clash.
The No. 4 has been a huge part of the Liverpool side that has kept 11 Premier League clean sheets this term and he’ll be looking to continue his solid defensive showings when the Reds meet the Serie A leaders for the first leg at the San Siro on February 16.
“Had it been in October or November, when the English side tend to give their best, I’d have bet less on Inter,” Di Canio told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine SportWeek (via Liverpool Echo).
“At this stage of the season, Liverpool have some small cracks in the armour that can be exploited. The Liverpool of two years ago had an impenetrable defence, as Virgil van Dijk had improved everyone around him. Since returning from injury, he’s not the same player and therefore the whole team concedes more.
“Liverpool keep conceding the same dangerous opportunities nowadays, vertical balls behind the defenders, who then start their runs late. That lack of focus is where Inter can hurt them.
“If you also look at Van Dijk’s body language, he used to move his arms to bring the full-backs tighter, but now he just flails his arms, complaining and looking frustrated with his team-mates.”
The former Southampton man has looked solid recently, though.
It was always going to take him some time to return to his best form after suffering such a nasty knee injury, but we look so much safer and more comfortable with him in the team.
It would be nice to keep a clean sheet in Milan next week and pick up one or two away goals to give us a great chance of progressing through to the quarters.
The Italian outfit will visit Anfield for the second leg on March 8.