Virgil van Dijk has claimed that a close relationship off the pitch is the key to Liverpool’s centre-backs success on it.
The Dutchman is the headliner of a group which also includes Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez, the latter of whom recently inked a long-term contract to remain at Anfield for the next five years.
That quartet combined to lead Liverpool to the best defensive record in the Premier League last season, and according to Van Dijk, the secret to their success is a genuine desire to help each other improve.
“It’s quite special to have these boys around and also as partners around, full of quality,” Van Dijk told Liverpoolfc.com. “Different qualities, each and every one of us, but we complement each other very well.
“The relationship we all have together is also a very big thing; we really enjoy the hard work and we all want the same goal and that’s winning games.
“Whoever is playing, we support each other, in every single competition. That’s key to success, so hopefully we can keep that going.”
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Van Dijk also confessed his delight at seeing Gomez commit his future to Liverpool, labelling the 25-year-old as one of the best defenders England have to offer.
“We spoke about it before he signed the deal and I’m just very happy that he’s staying at the club, staying with me,” Van Dijk said of Gomez. “Also I’m happy for the club that he’s signed.
“He is, in my opinion, [one of] if not the best English centre-back around. Obviously we’ve both been very unlucky with the injuries we had. Obviously his time will come again and hopefully this season he can show that.”
There was also praise for Konate, who made 29 appearances in his debut season for the Reds and tasted defeat just once – in the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid.
“He’s a very, very good player,” Van Dijk said. “What I like the most about him is the will to learn each and every day as well. “Obviously there are loads of things that can improve – and that’s good because he has time, he needs the experience. In my opinion, experience is a big thing for a centre-half to learn and to take with you.
“In his case, I’m very happy to see him develop, I’m very happy to see him shine on and off the pitch, he’s a fantastic character.
“But I can say that about the other two [Gomez and Matip] as well. We are very blessed as a club and I am very blessed to have these players around me as well.”