Liverpool defender Rhys Williams has praised the impact playing alongside Virgil van Dijk had on him against Lincoln on Thursday night.
Williams started at centre-back alongside the Dutchman on his Liverpool debut as the Reds won 7-2 in the League Cup clash. The defender has been at the club since he was 10 and was finally given his senior debut by Jurgen Klopp with Joel Matip and Joe Gomez not fully fit.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Williams revealed what it was like to play alongside Van Dijk in the match. “I had an inkling two days before and then yesterday we did set-pieces and I was starting with Virg – that made me feel safe obviously. The day before I prepared right and we got the result.
“You can see why he [ Van Dijk ] is the best in the world.
“He is talking constantly. He knew I was young and I was nervous. I’ve never felt more secure next to someone. Brilliant.”
ANFIELD WATCH VERDICT
It must be incredibly comforting, as Williams explains, to know that you have one of the best centre-backs in the world playing alongside you on your debut. Van Dijk finished second in the Ballon d’Or voting, making him the second-best player and the best defender in the world at the time. Williams was making his first-ever senior appearance for Liverpool and he had the experience of Van Dijk to lead him through the game.
Communication in defence is vital and Van Dijk’s stature as a player suggests that he knows how to marshal a back four and make sure that everyone is in the right position. If Williams did step out of position or make an error, Van Dijk would have been on hand to tell him what to do next time, which is a great learning experience for the youngster.
This experience could be huge for his development as he learns how to cope with playing at senior level as a centre-back. Hopefully, Williams will be able to use this time with the first-team squad to improve his game and show that he is ready for more opportunities in the future if they arise.