One incredible statistic has emerged regarding Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk.
Research from FIFPRO (via The Mirror) revealed that the Dutchman played 2,897 minutes of football from the beginning of August 2022 to the end of December, the fourth-most of any professional player in that timeframe.
The 31-year-old has endured injury problems since returning from the World Cup three months ago and has spoken out against the workload being heaped upon players at the highest level.
He has highlighted a need for the ‘welfare’ of elite footballers to be managed more carefully by the sport’s authorities (via The Mirror).
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Aside from being a phenomenal defender, one who the great Ronaldinho once dubbed ‘fantastic’ on Instagram (via The Mirror), Van Dijk is also a machine in terms of his durability.
He played more than 3,000 minutes in the Premier League alone in three of the four seasons between 2018/19 and 2021/22 (Transfermarkt), and he’d likely have had the full set were it not for the serious injury inflicted upon him by Jordan Pickford in October 2020.
During the current campaign, he was ever-present in the top flight until his enforced withdrawal at Brentford at the start of January, while he’s played every minute of our Champions League run so far (Transfermarkt).
That’s before we even mention his involvement in all 480 minutes of Netherlands’ run to the World Cup quarter-finals, featuring throughout extra time as they exited on penalties to eventual champions Argentina.
Liverpool might not be in action for a 16-day period later this month, but Van Dijk won’t be idle as he’ll likely feature for his country with the Euro 2024 qualifiers getting underway. He could also be involved in the UEFA Nations League finals in June (sigh).
He’s quite right to highlight the top-heavy workload being piled upon elite-level footballers. They might be well paid, but they cannot be treated like inanimate objects to be bent to the will of the sport’s governing bodies.
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