Virgil van Dijk has backed Jurgen Klopp‘s approach to squad rotation as the Liverpool manager continues to make big decisions over his matchday selection.
The Reds began the season with a three-game run that saw Klopp preserve an unchanged side, but now the manager is employing a more flexible outlook.
Injuries have dictated some changes, but he has also made bold calls to omit the likes of summer signing Naby Keita and in-form centre-back Joe Gomez in recent games.
This is due to the new-found strength of the Liverpool squad, with the substitutes’ bench regularly occupied by names such as Joel Matip, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge.
Beyond that, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Curtis Jones, Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi have all made one appearance or less in the opening nine games.
According to Van Dijk, it is essential that the Reds maintain a healthy balance in the squad—with the Dutchman insisting those not committed should leave, regardless of their role.
“You have to [understand], otherwise you better leave,” he urged.
“We all want one thing, we all want to be successful, everyone, and we need everyone’s help.
“It’s a long season with a lot of games, we need everyone and everyone knows that as well.
“And that’s a big strength for us. Everyone is doing their bit because the season is long.”
Sturridge stepped up to score a dramatic late equaliser in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea, lifting his goal tally to four, as Liverpool’s joint-top scorer so far this season.
The striker’s contribution is characteristic of this impressive squad depth, and speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Gomez hailed how the Reds are “stepping forward” across the pitch:
“We have an amazing squad this year and so many individuals are stepping forward and making big contributions. Long may it continue.
“Chelsea are obviously going to be title contenders this year so to come away with a point and prevent them from winning does a lot for us.
“We were on the receiving end of a few moments like that last season.
“I remember Willian got a late equaliser against us at Anfield. It was nice to be on the other side of it this time.
“For the team, momentum is carried on. It’s been a good start in the league and we need to build on it. It’s still early. We need to try to punish teams.”
It may be a difficult reality to come to terms with for those not playing regularly, but Van Dijk and Gomez are correct to assess this balance as crucial to Liverpool’s title hopes.