Peter Schmeichel believes that one Liverpool player looks ‘nervous and unsure’ about his role ahead of the new season.
The former Manchester United goalkeeper – who won five Premier League titles (Transfermarkt) – was speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live Sport when he cited concerns about the Reds at centre-back, in particular Virgil van Dijk.
The 59-year-old said: “Are you worried that you haven’t strengthened in that department?
“You have got Virgil van Dijk. He looks, again it’s pre-season games, but also based on some of his performances last season, he looks a little bit nervous and unsure about what he is supposed to do in these combinations that you could actually make in the centre of defence.”
Admittedly, Van Dijk was well below his usual standards last season, and in recent days he was the subject of accusations by Richard Keys of being ‘too quiet and selfish’ to be the leader that Liverpool need in the absence of Jordan Henderson.
However, the Dutchman has often led by example at Anfield with his on-pitch attributes, and he showed during pre-season that he’s not slow to issue instructions to teammates during matches.
He hasn’t been helped by not truly having a consistent partner alongside him at the back – Ibrahima Konate is a top-class defensive operator but has had his share of injury woes, and the same could be said of Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.
If Van Dijk and one of those (most likely the Frenchman) enjoy a near-unbroken season of playing together, that should bring a greater stability to Liverpool’s defence, something which is needed after 47 league goals were conceded last term.
Even if he doesn’t quite manage to rediscover the levels which saw him finish second in the Ballon D’Or four years ago, we still have every faith that the 32-year-old will silence his critics during the campaign ahead.