Graeme Souness questions whether Virgil van Dijk is 'a leader'
‘He doesn’t speak!’: Graeme Souness questions whether Virgil van Dijk is ‘a leader’ for Liverpool as the Reds icon calls for the Dutchman to ‘get angry’ after Bryan Robson praises the defender’s ability to ‘organise people’ at the back
- Graeme Souness questioned Virgil van Dijk’s ability as a leader for Liverpool
- The Dutchman has worn the armband for Liverpool six times so far this season
- Souness spoke with Bryan Robson ahead of United’s trip to Anfield on Sunday
Graeme Souness has called Virgil van Dijk’s leadership into question for Liverpool, arguing that the Dutchman is not talkative enough on the pitch.
Souness – himself a former Liverpool captain – claimed that the Dutch defender rarely gets angry for the Reds, adding that ‘he doesn’t speak!’.
Van Dijk is widely regarded as having had a transformative impact on the Liverpool defence, with the club going on to win a Champions League title and end their long wait for a Premier League title since his arrival.
However, the former Scotland international called for the Dutch defender to ‘get angry’ as he criticised his ability to guide the team, having taken on the armband on numerous occasions in the past.
Manchester United legend Bryan Robson suggested that Van Dijk was a key leadership figure for the Reds, alongside veteran midfielders James Milner and Jordan Henderson, with Liverpool set to host United on Sunday.
Graeme Souness called Virgil van Dijk’s leadership into question, claiming the defender does not talk enough
The Dutch defender has three Premier League goals this season after netting against Wolves
‘Liverpool’s successful years were when (James) Milner and (Jordan) Henderson have been right at their peak because they’re aggressive, they’re leaders, they’re shouting at people, they organise people, and so that helps and then (Virgil) Van Dijk was very similar as well when he first came in,’ Robson claimed, in a conversation with Souness for Sportsmail.
‘All of a sudden they had three people who were leaders for the rest of them.’
‘I’m not sure if Van Dijk’s a leader, he doesn’t speak!’ argued Souness. ‘Have you ever seen him angry? Get angry please!’
Van Dijk has missed seven games so far this season, and has himself claimed that he may have played too many games, which has caused his injury problems.
However, when he has been fit the defender has been a hugely important figure in the Reds’ quest to finish in the Champions League places this season, and has captained the side six times in 2022-23.
He has also worn the armband for his country, Holland, doing so in all five of his nation’s games at the World Cup in Qatar.
Liverpool have struggled this season to replicate the form that has seen them shoot to prominence as one of the leading outfits in world football in recent years.
Bryan Robson was by contrast full of praise for Van Dijk’s position in the team alongside leaders James Milner and Jordan Henderson
But Souness suggested that part of the issue for the Reds has been their midfield, claiming that it is not the same three-man unit without Georginio Wijnaldium, who left the club for PSG in 2021.
‘The best midfield they had was Wijnaldum, Henderson and Milner,’ continued Souness.
‘They weren’t the most gifted but I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed playing against them – they’re at you all the time, they make you keep your head down and they would work you all the time.
‘That intensity’s gone from Liverpool’s midfield and I think that impacts how far up the pitch they win the ball now and also impacts on them defensively, because now if I’m playing against them I can get my head up.’
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