You don’t need to tell Liverpool fans how good Virgil van Dijk is. They have seen the Dutchman revolutionise their side’s defence since his arrival last winter, and his performances have been nothing of world class since he joined from Southampton.
Often coined as a Rolls-Royce of a defender, Virgil has settled in superbly to life under Jürgen Klopp and has been earning plaudits from across the footballing world; with many calling him one of, if not, the best, defenders on the planet.
Aside from his eye-catching performances in a tactical sense, van Dijk’s leadership and authority in Liverpool’s squad have also played a huge part as to how his side function. Klopp recently gave van Dijk the armband in games where Henderson and Milner, his appointed captain and vice-captain respectively, were missing from the starting line-up.
It was revealed that the players voted for their third in-line to the armband, hence why van Dijk led the team out on a number of occasions recently.
This has, inevitably, only added to the calls which have been buzzing around Liverpool fans since his arrival, that van Dijk should be handed the captain’s armband on a permanent basis.
While it is very unusual for a team to change their captain part-way through a season, it would not be a surprise to see Klopp hand Virgil the armband before next season begins.
Now, this is not a dig at Jordan Henderson who, for what it’s worth, does a fantastic job as the Club’s leader. He leads by example both on and off the pitch, doesn’t shirk responsibility and is a commander on the pitch – constantly barking orders at his teammates and keeping things in check.
This is something that van Dijk does naturally, and it’s very clear to see even from watching games on the television. You can see him gesticulating and hear his booming voice. All of this is even more abundantly clear when you’re sitting in the stands at Anfield.
So yes, both Henderson and van Dijk are leaders – but van Dijk has an advantage. He’s present in the team far more often than Henderson is, at least of late.
Henderson has struggled to maintain a constant fitness level due to niggling injuries, meaning he has missed a whole host of games since Klopp took over as manager. In fact, he’s missed between 30-40% of all possible games since the German took over at Liverpool.
Compare that with van Dijk (who admittedly has not been at Liverpool for anywhere near as long as Henderson), and the stats are clearly tilted in the Dutchman’s favour.
To have someone of van Dijk’s physical prowess, with his leadership qualities clear for all to see, and with a far superior injury record, it would simply make more sense to appoint him as Liverpool’s captain for the sake of continuity.
Not only this, since his introduction into the side, it feels as though Liverpool have taken on a whole new sense of maturity due to his presence.
Those that play alongside him, Joe Gomez and Alisson Becker included, have publicly spoken out about the positive influence he has had on their game. With this in mind, imagine the effect he’s had on the rest of the team.
Great importance is bestowed on the man who carries the armband for any team, and with a club the size and stature of Liverpool, that responsibility is arguably bigger than the majority of clubs in world football.
While Henderson has carried this mantle impeccably over the past three years, it may be time for him to step aside.
Van Dijk is the natural successor to the armband, and with no disrespect to our current skipper, the captain should really be one of your team’s better performers – and van Dijk is certainly ahead of Henderson in this department.
So thank you for your service, Jordan, but it’s time to make way for a new legacy.