Liverpool vice-captain, James Milner has insisted that though Virgil van Dijk is regarded as a superman by his teammates at Anfield, he needs to be taken care of.
The 35-year-old English midfielder said the club could only take care of the 30-year-old Netherlands international by rotating him to help maintain his fitness level throughout the season.
Recall that Virgil van Dijk has been one of the most important players at Liverpool since he joined the club from Southampton on January 1, 2018, for a transfer fee worth €83.65 million.
In the 2018-2019 season which happened to be his first full season at the club, the Dutchman led Liverpool to win the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
In his second season at the club, he helped Liverpool to win the Premier League title for the first time in 30 years.
But in the 2020-2021 season, he got injured in the summer of 2020. The knee injury was so severe that despite undergoing surgery, he could not return to action until the summer of 2021.
Since he was declared fit to play again, Van Dijk has made 5 Premier League appearances. In the games he has played this season, his effort made it impossible for opposing teams to score against them except 1-1 draw against Chelsea.
During the Chelsea game, the Dutchman showed signs that he was not perfectly fit to play but was solid throughout the game. Hence, coach Jurgen Klopp decided to rest him ahead of the Champions League game against AC Milan which ended 3-2 in Liverpool’s favor.
Most pundits believe that if the 30-year-old Dutch defender had played the game, AC Milan would not have scored two goals against the Premier League side.
On Sunday, September 19, 2021, Virgil van Dijk returned against Crystal Palace in the Premier League. As expected, he played for 90 minutes and ensured that the club didn’t concede any goal.
At the end of the game, Liverpool won 3-0, thanks to goals from Africa trios – Sadio Mane (43), Mohamed Salah (78), and Naby Keïta (89).
Mane's record-breaking strike, Salah's well-taken finish and a Naby screamer! ⚽️— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 19, 2021
Three goals, a clean sheet and three points for the Reds against Palace 💪🔴 pic.twitter.com/o5IuThYY57
Former England international James Milner said: “We all think Virg is Superman and he is, 99 times out of 100.
“But the injury that he has come back from – and to look as good as he has done since he has come back – you know, he’s not 21.
“To do what he has done since he’s been back is incredible. It shows what a good player he is, what a mentality he has.
“But he needs looking after as well, no matter how angry he gets at being left out of the team. He is going to need looking after and that is rotation.”
While making a case for the rotation policy of the team, the 35-year-old English midfielder added: “You look at the center-halves in the club – they are all incredible. You see them in training, they are unbelievable.
“I think it (rotation) is obviously important. In the positions we got into last year, we were unlucky with injuries and players having to play out of position. I think it is to help with things like that.”