Jurgen Klopp ‘increased the pressure’ on Virgil van Dijk to sit out this summer’s European Championships.
That’s according to Friday’s print edition of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf (via Sport Witness).
Liverpool initially coped well in his absence, topping the Premier League at Christmas, but Klopp’s side unravelled at the turn of the year and now trail Manchester City, who have regained their title, by a whopping 23 points.
However, the Reds were boosted this week by the news that Van Dijk has abandoned his Euro 2020 hopes in favour of readying himself for pre-season.
De Telegraaf claimed (via Sport Witness) that Klopp helped to force Van Dijk’s decision and adopted a deliberate media strategy of raising doubts about the centre-back’s availability.
Whilst it was unlikely that he would feature in the group stage of the competition, which will see the Oranje face Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia, he could have been in contention for the knockout stages if Frank de Boer’s side made it that far.
This was clearly a difficult decision for Van Dijk as the captain of his country, who have not been to a major tournament since the 2014 World Cup, but the nightmare scenario for Liverpool was the 29-year-old’s progress being undone by an all-too-hasty return to action.
The Netherlands, for their part, can still call upon the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij and Nathan Ake at centre-back, but they may sorely miss Van Dijk’s leadership during the summer showcase.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience