Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Fabinho were all previous players in front of Van Dijk. It may be doing them a disservice but Liverpool’s new crop of midfielders arguably have a higher ceiling.
While they aren’t quite as effective as their predecessors yet, Van Dijk says the incomers have been “outstanding” and he is enjoying the “different vibe” around the team.
“We had a short break and then we came back,” Van Dijk, who admitted to feeling “drained” and “frustrated” after last season, explained.
"The key is to find consistency!" ?
Virgil van Dijk talks about Liverpool's shortcomings in 2022/23 and what Liverpool have looked to correct this season…
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) October 21, 2023
“Pre-season was very good, we started in Germany, proper training camp, then the commercial tour and it worked pretty well. I’m glad it worked like it did.
“We definitely sense a different vibe, different energy in the club.
“There has been a transition, of course, but also in the way we play. We have different players, with different qualities. We try to adapt a little in football. I think it’s working quite well.”
Liverpool won’t become imperious overnight, and plenty of the players are still inexperienced – none of Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister or Ryan Gravenberch had played a Merseyside derby before Saturday afternoon.
The relative inexperience hasn’t hindered Liverpool too much so far, and Van Dijk’s outlook is positive on the summer signings.
“The guys coming in have been outstanding in my opinion,” the Dutchman added.
“Mac Allister, maybe in a position I’m not sure he really, really wants to play, but he has the quality to play anywhere in the midfield. The yards he’s going each and every game is great.
“Szoboszlai is a different breed. His energy, he keeps running, he wants the ball at all times, he counter-pressess, that’s what we want.
“Curtis Jones is doing very well too, Ryan started his first derby. It’s something to be excited about as a Liverpool fan. Long may it continue, but I think the key is finding consistency.”
Van Dijk himself has had a return to form, too, with some questioning his abilities last season. Next up for Liverpool is Toulouse at Anfield on Thursday night.