LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk embraces manager Jürgen Klopp as he is substituted during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Van Dijk ready for 90 minutes as Klopp faces welcome centre-back decision

Jurgen Klopp welcomed the four-year signature from Virgil van Dijk and is looking ahead to a “very successful future” for the centre-back, starting again in 2021/22.

It’s been a memorable few weeks for Van Dijk, with his return to first-team training after nearly 10 months out of action followed by making his return to the pitch and a new four-year contract.

The Dutchman has been a key pillar for Klopp since he arrived and will continue to do so for the peak years of his career, which could get up and running once more at Norwich.

Van Dijk got 136 minutes under his belt throughout pre-season, his first taste of action since October 17, in what was a momentous step in his comeback.

There has been a keen desire not to rush his return after what was a serious knee injury, but the No. 4 is firmly in contention for Saturday.

And speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp welcomed the “great news” of the new contract and was relieved that he did not have to imagine buying “this boy now.”

“Great news, the good thing about this signing is we know him already, used him already quite successfully and we’re really happy that he’s happy here.

Anfield, matchday lineup, Salah (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Even more so after a difficult last year and that he’s back on track, trains with teams and prepares, hopefully, a very successful future at this club. Great news.

“Imagine if we had to buy this boy now, thank god we only had to give him a new contract!

“Virgil was out for a long time, now training with the team for three weeks, played minutes, could have played 90 minutes [vs. Athletic] I’m sure, we just didn’t try it.

“I’m really happy with the situation.”

The No. 4 himself, after signing his new four-year deal, declared that “I feel like I am ready for the weekend, so we’ll see what the manager decides.”

It’s a decision that will force a pause for thought for Klopp against Norwich with Joel Matip having been a standout throughout the summer to warrant a place in the XI, while new signing Ibrahima Konate has similarly impressed.

It leaves Klopp in a strong position at centre-back in what is a stark contrast to last season with Joe Gomez also on the precipice of a return to the matchday squad.