With Liverpool’s defence struggling for any kind of consistency this season, Virgil van Dijk has admitted his role in the Reds’ poor start to the season.
Van Dijk, who has been widely regarded as the best defender in the world for much of his time at Liverpool, has completed every game at club level this season.
After an encouraging Community Shield victory over Man City at the end of July, Jurgen Klopp‘s side have endured a disappointing start to their Premier League campaign, having only won two of their opening six matches.
The defence has been an ongoing issue for some time, with Liverpool only managing to keep two clean sheets so far this season, and regularly falling behind in matches.
Individually, Van Dijk’s performances haven’t been up to the high standards he has set in recent years, and the Dutchman has now acknowledged the “mistakes” he has made so far this season.
“I know I could have done better in the beginning of the season. I’m not naive about that. I know very well when I make mistakes,” he told reporters after the Netherlands’ win over Poland, as quoted by The Athletic.
“I also know that I am one of the important players at the club and of course also here at the national team. I feel that responsibility.”
Van Dijk went on to explain how he feels an extra weight of responsibility as one of the leading players for both club and country.
“Mentally it’s a challenge. You feel a lot of pressure on your head,” he continued.
“A lot of people forget that too, it’s not easy to do that. We all try to show our best and if, in my case, you are one of the mainstays at the club, then you get the criticism you deserve.
“You have to deal with that and that is not always easy. But I did that just fine.”
After an embarrassing 4-1 defeat to Napoli earlier this month, Klopp and his Liverpool players held some honest conversations about their poor form.
Van Dijk, though, has taken heart from the togetherness shown among his team-mates.
“We spoke well (with each other), especially in the week leading up to the (Champions League) match against Ajax Amsterdam.
“It doesn’t mean it can’t happen again. But it is important, and I see that with the national team too, that the focus is all in the same direction. That is the basis for success.”