Pundit explains why Liverpool should look to ‘sell’ Virgil van Dijk after ‘disappearing’ act
Former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino thinks “it could be time” for Liverpool to “consider” selling defender Virgil van Dijk
Van Dijk played the full 90 minutes of Liverpool’s 5-2 home defeat to Real Madrid on Tuesday evening.
Liverpool have really struggled this term and after two positive results in the Premier League were brought back down to earth by Los Blancos in the Champions League.
Van Dijk recently missed six matches after suffering a hamstring injury, with his side coming out victorious one time in that period – the FA Cup fourth-round replay at Wolves.
Despite his clear influence on all things good at Anfield, Van Dijk was unable to prevent the Reds from being embarrassed by the European champions.
Liverpool need to overcome a three-goal deficit when they play the second leg on March 15.
Van Dijk admitted after the first-leg defeat that his side face an “almost impossible” job to get through to the quarter-final of the Champions League.
“We have almost an impossible job in Madrid in three weeks’ time, but when the time is right, we’ll focus and we’ll give everything to represent the club as good as we can,” the Netherlands captain said.
“The only thing we can do is watch it, learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen in the next game we play, which is Crystal Palace.
“It sounds pretty easy but it isn’t — that’s the hard reality.
“If you look back in the last two games, we played well (beating Everton and Newcastle) and that’s something we should focus on as well and don’t be in panic.
“Obviously we are all disappointed we lost, that is how we should be, but the way we lost, almost not giving ourselves a chance in Madrid, is tough.”
Cascarino was less than impressed with the Dutch centre-half against Madrid, whose “body language” hinted that he should be sold by Liverpool.
“[Joe] Gomez plays Rodrygo onside and is then unfortunate with a deflection, but Virgil van Dijk should not escape criticism,” Cascarino told The Times.
“As the senior centre back, he should recognise that his partner is struggling and ensure the back line is flat. However, the Dutchman was often raising his eyebrows or looking to the ground.
“This body language reminds me of Van Dijk’s final season at Southampton, when he was pushing for a move to Anfield.
“Five years on, I think it could be time for Liverpool to consider selling him themselves. The Van Dijk that was among the best in the world has disappeared.”
Though Cascarino thinks Van Dijk’s period of dominance is coming to an end, West Ham striker Michail Antonio has said the Dutchman is the toughest defender he has played against.
“Virgil. 100%, He has it all,” Antonio said when asked who is the hardest opponent he has faced.
“Everyone says it to be fair. Pace, strong, good on the ball, always in the right position. He’s definitely the hardest I have played against.”
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