Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk admits he faces an uncertain future in the wake of Jurgen Klopp’s shock announcement.
Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk admits he faces an uncertain future in the wake of Jurgen Klopp’s shock announcement, believing a new regime might offer him “more clarification” over his contract situation.
On Friday, Klopp made public his news, that was revealed to owners Fenway Sports Group in November, that he intends to step down after nine years on Merseyside at the end of this season, saying he no longer has the energy levels required to do the job properly after so long in the Anfield dugout.
Klopp, who made Van Dijk a club-record signing at £75m when he signed him from Southampton in January 2018, took the call to give the Netherlands captain the club’s armband after Jordan Henderson’s departure in July.
And with 18 months left on a deal that was penned in the summer of 2022, Van Dijk said he is keenly awaiting the club’s next steps, admitting he is “very curious” to how those tasked with the job will replace the iconic Klopp later this year.
“Will I be part of the new era? That’s a big question,” Van Dijk said. “I don’t know. Eighteen months left? That’s correct. Good maths. I don’t know.
“The club will have a big job on their hands, that is well known. To replace not only the manager but the whole staff and there are so many things that will change. I’m very curious which direction that will go in but when that will be announced we will see our situation. I can’t say much about it.
“It will be the end of Jurgen Klopp’s era and I am still part of it – that’s why I don’t like to talk about it. That is my main focus. We will see at the end of the season, hopefully we will have the success we all dream of and by then probably there will be more clarification about what the club wants for the future and then we will see.”
Van Dijk became the first Liverpool player to go public with his reaction to Klopp’s decision in an interview with the club’s official channels on Saturday and the captain explained the responsibility he felt as skipper in the wake of what represented a genuine bombshell announcement by the manager.
He added: “Of course, I definitely felt like that because there are loads of questions everyone wants to ask each and everyone of us. The manager said it in his press conference: ask everything there and then we go back to focusing on what we want to achieve and that’s how I see it as well.
“We can speak about the situation about what will happen next year every week but it doesn’t change, it’s noise we don’t need and that’s why we focus on getting the job done and that’s why I feel nothing has changed. It is still the same but at the end of the season there will be different things happening of course but that is for the club to sort out.
“Nothing has really changed. Obviously things will change at the end of the season and in the new season but at the moment it doesn’t and we have to keep doing the same things. It’s easier said than done but I sense the rest of the boys think like that as well and it is the job for me to ensure we keep it that way. Today (against Norwich City in the FA Cup) was a good day.
“I don’t think it could be an insult to your professionalism (to let Klopp’s news affect you), we are all human beings and we have emotions – some players feel different about the manager’s announcement than others: that’s absolutely normal because everyone thinks in different ways but I didn’t notice the professionalism being dropped or the level of standard.
“The training sessions I have seen in the last couple of days were not different than before and I think today as well, for the boss it was a bit different, but for us it was to make sure we got to the next round with some players coming back from injury and now we focus on Wednesday (against Chelsea).”
Having booked their place in the Carabao Cup final last week, the Reds will meet Chelsea at Wembley next month and with the Londoners to visit Anfield on Wednesday night, Van Dijk says the team need “a perfect performance” to maintain their five-point advantage at the top of the Premier League.
“I’ve never played a game against Chelsea where it was easy,” Van Dijk said. “It is always difficult and a tough game for many reasons.
“They have a good side – a very young side – which are trying to find their best formation and team and want to build on that and it takes time. They have a very good manager in my opinion and it’s going to be a very tough one on Wednesday.
“But any game we play from now until the end of the season will be tough in any competition, it’s nothing new. We need a perfect performance and we will fight for that. We play at home so that should be an advantage.
“Hopefully it will be a lot more positive this Wednesday for us in terms of goals and a clean sheet. We are going to give it everything and hopefully we win the game, which is the most important thing, and then we focus on the weekend but it’s going to be tough.”
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