Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk has signed a new long-term contract with the club, extending his stay until 2025.
The No4 missed around 10 months through injury after suffering a torn ACL in the Merseyside derby last year in a challenge from Jordan Pickford, but has returned to feature in pre-season for the Reds and manager Jurgen Klopp says he is ready to be called upon if needed for the new Premier League season.
Prior to his absence Van Dijk was widely heralded as the best defender in England’s top flight, winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Uefa Men’s Player of the Year in 18/19 as the Reds won the Champions League. He also came second place in the Ballon d’Or for 2019.
The following year, Van Dijk was a key player as Liverpool ended their long wait to become Premier League title-winners, helping the Reds go unbeaten from the start of the season through to the end of February, just before the coronavirus pandemic and enforced suspension of football delayed those celebrations somewhat.
He has played 130 times for Liverpool since signing in January 2018, adding Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup medals to those two other main prizes.
After inking his new deal the Netherlands captain explained his happiness at remaining at Anfield where he has had such success since joining from Southampton.
“All the hard work we’ve put in so far continues and I am looking forward to what the future brings together with Liverpool. I’m delighted, very happy and proud,” he told the club website.
“Since day one when I joined the club, I felt so much appreciation from the fans and from my teammates and the staff, that I could be a very important member of this football club.
“It has been going well; unfortunately last season for me personally has been a season to forget, to learn from and take with me, but I have enjoyed my time here and will keep enjoying it in the next couple of years altogether with all of you.”
He faces renewed competition - or a long-term partner - in defence this season with Liverpool adding fellow centre-back Ibrahima Konate to the ranks, while Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are both back to fitness after their own injuries last season.
Klopp’s team start their 21/22 campaign away to Norwich City on Saturday evening.
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