‘People don’t see’ – Man City star defends Virgil van Dijk amid recent criticism

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Nathan Ake has claimed he and his Netherlands teammates ‘cannot imagine or wish for a better captain’ for the national side despite the recent criticism that Virgil van Dijk has received.

Dutch legends Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit have questioned the Liverpool defender’s performances this season with the 31-year-old, alongside many other of Jurgen Klopp’s squad, struggling to reach the levels of previous campaigns.

Manchester City Ake has now came out and defender his international teammate, however, emphasising how important the ex-Southampton man is to the squad both on and off the pitch.

“Virgil is a leader for the Oranje and for Liverpool, what he has achieved is not nothing,” Ake told De Telegraaf (via Inside Futbol).

“He really is a very big personality.

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“Apparently, people don’t see Virgil’s importance to us on and off the pitch.

“We cannot imagine or wish for a better captain.”

Van Dijk expressed his annoyance at the recent criticism earlier this week and explained that his performances since joining Liverpool in 2018 have been ‘consistent’ rather than ‘perfect’.

The former Celtic man has become recognised as the best defender in the world since his £75m move to Merseyside but after suffering a serious knee injury back in 2020 and also sustaining a hamstring injury at the start of the year, he hasn’t quite been himself.

Former Anfield favourite Steve Nicol, however, was keen to stress recently that even when the towering centre half isn’t at his best he’s still better than most other players in his position.

We will need the central defender and the rest of his teammates at their very best on Saturday when we face Manchester City at the Etihad.

The Dutchman’s task against Pep Guardiola’s side may be made slightly easier by the fact Erling Haaland appears to be a doubt for the game after not being pictured in training with his City teammates, but he will still be coming up against the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Julian Alvarez and Jack Grealish amongst others.

The Norwegian, who has scored 42 goals and registered five assists in 37 appearances this term (across all competitions), is nursing a groin injury and missed his nation’s two games against Georgia and Spain recently.

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