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‘It shouldn’t depend on my salary’ – Virgil van Dijk hits back at fixture list question

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Virgil van Dijk was challenged on his views about player welfare and his salary after the Liverpool captain spoke up in his latest press conference

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk was challenged about his salary as he championed player welfare and the need for voices to speak out against the growing fixture list.

Since joining Liverpool in January 2018, the Dutch defender has played 229 matches at club level plus another 44 for his country. This roughly equates to 50 matches per year on average.

There have been attempts to alleviate some of the stresses on players, such as no extra-time in earlier rounds of the EFL Cup and replays being scrapped in latter rounds of the FA Cup, and five substitutes now often used in all competitions.

But equally there are numerous ways the schedule is being expanded. At club level UEFA plan to change the Champions League and Europa League into a 36-team group format, whilst FIFA are to launch a 32-team Club World Cup to be played quadrennially in the summer from 2025.

The international governing body are also making the 2026 World Cup for national teams open to 48 finalists as opposed to the regular 32 and UEFA have already started their Nations League in place of regular international friendlies.

Talking about the matter of player welfare while on duty with the Dutch national team on Thursday, Van Dijk said: “In England we believe that the calendars are too demanding. The players are paid well, but this should never be to the detriment of our health.

“We keep having to play more and more games. We players should start saying something, contribute to a solution.”

The 32-year-old was challenged on his view, as a reporter replied asking if he would be willing to waive 10 percent of his salary in order to play less matches.

“No,” the defender responded. The journalist retorted: “And for the better of your health?”

“Then yes,” was van Dijk’s answer. He was then met with the question: “Why was your first response ‘no’?

“Because it shouldn’t depend on my salary? And all the extra competitions? The Nations League? The money of that doesn’t go to my salary,” he said.

Still not happy, the reporter queried: “You get a bonus if you win it though.” And Van Dijk replied: “These bonuses are not a guarantee.”

The Dutchman is in action for the Netherlands again this international break. They play France on October 13 and Greece on October 16 in European Championship qualifiers.

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