Ronald Koeman Takes Dig at Liverpool as Virgil van Dijk's Netherlands Future Hangs in Balance
Unless he improves, Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk may face the possibility of being dropped from his national team, as suggested by Ronald Koeman.
This season has been one of the toughest for Liverpool's defender Virgil van Dijk, who is 31 years old.
His recent performances have been plagued by errors, causing him to face heightened scrutiny. The Reds, who have experienced inconsistency this season, are currently sitting in seventh place in the Premier League, trailing nine points behind the top four.
After recovering from a hamstring injury and rejoining the team in February, Van Dijk has not been performing up to his usual standard and has been overshadowed by his centre-back partner, Ibrahima Konate.
Van Dijk has also struggled during his international duty since the World Cup in Qatar. He played in the opening Euro 2024 qualifier in March, where Netherlands suffered a 4-0 loss to France.
After taking over as the coach of Netherlands following the World Cup, Ronald Koeman has made it clear that Van Dijk must enhance his performances, or else he risks being excluded from the team.
"It will have to be better, We are well endowed with central defenders," said former Everton manager Koeman.
"I've always said to Virgil 'you have to assume that the player standing next to you makes a mistake.' Then you have to look at: am I good? Am I assessing the situation correctly?
"And sometimes he just has to come into the game much harder and shorter, but then he keeps his position too much. I'll discuss that with Virgil as well.
"Virgil obviously got injured. A knee injury, a muscle injury, then a World Cup played in November… but I think his poor form also has to do with the team he plays in."
The upcoming match against Croatia in the Nations League is the next challenge for the Netherlands, scheduled for June 14.
However, Van Dijk's current priority is Liverpool and their upcoming game against West Ham.
On Wednesday night, Liverpool will visit the London Stadium, and they realistically need to secure a win to maintain their slim chances of finishing in the top four and securing a spot in the Champions League for the next season.