Virgil van Dijk has seemingly had a poor start to the season and now the stats back up the idea that the Liverpool forward has dropped his standards.
While most wouldn’t go that far, the Liverpool defender certainly lived up to the price tag that made him the world’s most expensive defender for a time.
However, this season things have not gone as well for the Reds, or the 31-year-old defender and he has come under increasing scrutiny.
For his part, the Dutch defender, who was even called up while on international duty, claimed the criticism is just to demoralize the Liverpool squad, similar to Harry Maguire accusing people of just ‘wanting clicks’.
However, it seems that the stats may back up those who have questioned the former Southampton man’s form, or at least show that he is not at the top level.
According to WhoScored, the arbiters of all statistics, Van Dijk has certainly slipped in most of the main aspects of the defence.
In the previous two seasons, Van Dijk only had to make 0.5 and 0.6 tackles per game, but already this season he has made 0.7 tackles per game.
Likewise, he was only forced to make 1 and 0.9 tackles per game in the 2020/21 and 21/22 seasons, respectively, but is already at 1.6 this season.
As a defensive unit, Klopp’s side, when Van Dijk plays, have only managed 0.3 offsides per game in the league, while previous seasons have seen opponents caught 1, 1.2 and 1.3 times every 90 minutes.
Again, it shows how much more defense the team needs to do, as they made 0.6 blocks per game, down from as low as 0.1 in previous seasons.
One of the great things about having Van Dijk in the team for Klopp is also the defender’s ability to have the ball at his feet, but even that doesn’t work well.
The stats certainly back up the fact that he’s not as good a passer, or at least as efficient, as in years past.
At his best, Van Dijk provided 0.4 key passes a game, with a pass success rate of up to 90%, in the 2020/21 campaign.
So far this year, he has just 0.1 key passes per game and has dropped to just 87.1% success rate on his passes, which is his lowest since he was at Southampton.
Those criticizing the defender certainly have the stats to back up what they say about him and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with team morale.
It doesn’t suddenly stop him from being one of the best defenders in the world, but opponents will certainly start to see less of that “aura” around him if the numbers continue in the current direction.
Having reached such a high standard over the last couple of years, it’s no surprise that he has had a recent dip in form, now it’s just a question of how long that will last.