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Explained: The reality behind Virgil van Dijk’s comments on Liverpool future

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Liverpool fans have been, understandably, a little on edge since the bombshell news that Jurgen Klopp will step down at the end of the season dropped.

And so the last thing they needed was Virgil van Dijk suggesting that his future, too, is uncertain with under 18 months remaining on his contract.

Speaking after the FA Cup victory over Norwich on Sunday, the Dutchman was asked if he will be part of the post-Klopp era that is about to be ushered in, and offered a perhaps too honest reply in saying: “That’s a big question. I don’t know.”

These words proved enough to send a fanbase still reeling from the imminent departure of their talismanic manager even deeper into a spiral.

But it is not difficult to understand why, given that they seemed to suggest Van Dijk is keeping his options open amid all the change.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 3, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) celebrates with Trent Alexander-Arnold (C) and captain Virgil van Dijk (R) after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Some supporters even went as far as to claim that the defender will not commit his future until he is convinced that a worthy replacement for Klopp is coming in.

In truth, though, such declarations misunderstand Van Dijk’s character, and his ties to the club.

A regular fixture in the mixed zone after games, the 32-year-old is always calm and measured in his responses, a knack that came in particularly handy during a disastrous 2022/23 season.

He is also fiercely proud of his role as Liverpool captain, and knows the additional weight that brings to his words.

As such, he is not the type to start throwing out threats to the club at what is a very sensitive time as far as fans are concerned.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 26, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk is interviewed after the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The reality is that Sunday’s interview was just a case of Van Dijk speaking truthfully, admitting he does not know what the future looks like under a new manager who is sure to have his own ideas.

Obviously, it is ludicrous to suggest that, no matter who it is, Klopp’s successor won’t see the current club captain as part of the future.

But it’s tough to blame Van Dijk for going down the faux humility route when his contract situation is a precarious one.

To that end, it is tempting to ask why Liverpool have allowed things to reach this point, but there tends to be value in waiting until as late as possible before handing out fresh deals to players on the wrong side of 30.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 28, 2024: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In Van Dijk’s case, the decision is expected to fall to a new sporting director and manager, but it is difficult to imagine both won’t want to keep him.

There is a lot of change already coming at Anfield, and adding to that by jettisoning your skipper and arguably the best defender in the world would be incredibly foolish.

That is particularly true of a player who looks well capable of showing his best form for a good few years yet.

The fact is that he is keen to do that at Liverpool, and so there should be no panic just yet that Klopp will be followed through the exit door by one of the key figures in his glorious reign.