Virgil van Dijk ‘playing within himself’, says Danny Murphy, who believes Liverpool star is ‘psychologically not in the same place’ after sustaining ACL injury September 6, 2022 – Posted in: Soccer

Virgil van Dijk’s lack of form can be traced back to when he sustained an ACL injury during Liverpool’s clash at Everton in the 2020/21 season.

The Dutchman and the Reds have made a shaky start to the season with just nine points from their opening six matches.

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Liverpool are already six points off the top of the Premier League

Their latest outing saw them only manage a goalless draw at Everton in a Merseyside derby that saw Van Dijk escape a red card for a late challenge on Toffees midfielder Amadou Onana.

And Murphy believes Van Dijk’s injury, which kept him out for the remainder of the 2020/21 campaign, means he’s ‘playing within himself’ and is ‘psychologically not in the same place.’

“He’s not up to his level. Before his injury he was arguably looking like one of the best centre-halves we’ve ever seen,” Murphy said on Kick Off.

“The injury, which is a huge one and he’s come back from, although he’s not had problems in missing games I think psychologically he’s not in the same place.

“What I mean by that is not wanting to be as physically engaged with players and tackles, although he had the studs one at the weekend.

“He’s playing within himself a little bit and protecting himself a little bit without knowing it.


Van Dijk injured his anterior cruciate ligament at Goodison Park in October 2020

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Van Dijk injured his anterior cruciate ligament at Goodison Park in October 2020

“I’ve played with players who have had ACL injuries before and when they come back you can see them doing it.

“Jimmy Bullard was a good example – he did it twice. And sometimes I can see him just staying out of things, although he wasn’t the bravest anyway!

“I think there’s maybe a little bit of staying out of trouble. You could argue the way he plays he doesn’t get himself in that much trouble anyway.

“But there is always that thing in the back of your mind when you’ve had a bad injury I think.

Van Dijk came second in the Ballon d’Or rankings in 2020

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Van Dijk came second in the Ballon d’Or rankings in 2020

“We are again talking about someone who has set ridiculously high standards and even when he’s dropping below them at the moment he’s still brilliant compared to a lot of other centre-halves.

“But it just seems like he’s within himself and I don’t know if he even knows why himself, sometimes you can just fall into a trap.

“I don’t think it helps having continually different centre-halves, I don’t think it helps that Fabinho in front of him hasn’t been at his best either and when you’ve got him, Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara in front of you dictating play then you’re defending less.

“It’s another case of the cream rising to the top, he’ll be back.”

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