Virgil van Dijk has turned down the chance to rest in the international break, with Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal explaining that he “wants to play everything.”
Van Dijk is one of 15 senior Liverpool players on duty with their national teams in March, and captained the Netherlands in their 4-2 win over Denmark on Saturday.
Up next is a home friendly against rivals Germany, and Van Gaal has almost wholesale changes planned from the victory in Amsterdam at the weekend.
However, Van Dijk has insisted he be in contention to start, with Van Gaal telling reporters on Monday that he had intended to rest his No. 4 only to be told he “wants to play.”
“He didn’t want to hear anything about it, so yes, then he has to play,” Van Gaal joked, as relayed by NOS.
“Virgil wants to play everything.”
It is a testament to Van Dijk’s commitment and will to win that he would reject a rare opportunity to rest in a relentless end to the season for club and country.
That was echoed by Andy Robertson who, having recovered from COVID-19 to return to Scotland training, explained: “I don’t want to be sitting in my house if I don’t have to be.”
But Van Gaal, who has produced a media masterclass since his return to the Netherlands job, is at least mindful of overusing his players.
“These players have played so many games in a row, also due to the Corona crisis, that the players also get tired and the recovery takes longer,” he continued.
“I have to take that into account, because there are all kinds of aches and pains that cannot be taken away with massages or whatever.”
Van Dijk, who made his return from a long-term ACL injury in pre-season, has already played 45 times for Liverpool and the Netherlands this season, including every minute in the Premier League bar two games missed due to COVID-19.