Virgil van Dijk backs ‘great guy’ Cody Gakpo to deal with Liverpool ‘pressure’

Virgil van Dijk has called for Cody Gakpo to be given time to settle at Liverpool as he accepted his Netherlands teammate will have to deal with a different kind of pressure at Anfield.

Gakpo is set to make his Liverpool debut in Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Wolves after his £37 million move from PSV Eindhoven and Van Dijk, who will miss the match with a hamstring injury, believes Liverpool have signed a great footballer.

But while he expects the reigning Dutch player of the year to make a major impact in England, he warned it may not happen straight away.

He said: “He is a great player first and foremost but he is also a great guy, personality-wise. He will be great for the group. He is calm, as well and I think he can be very good for us. I feel like he will and he probably needs a bit of time. We will obviously give him that and hopefully our friends give him that too.”

Gakpo will be subjected to more scrutiny at Liverpool and Van Dijk added: “I think he will handle it fine but you have no idea what it is like until you are under this sort of pressure.

“He will have to keep his head down and look at what we are doing as a group and listen to the manager, listen to the players around you and don’t listen too much to the outside world because you can be one of the best in the world one day and one of the worst the next. So it is never something in the middle, so he has to stay calm and I think he will do. He is that type of person. I will help him with that, if necessary.”

Van Dijk helped persuade Gakpo to sign and explained: “It was just normal chats, it was not that I was trying to convince him but when the time was there I gave my honest opinion and that is something I can always do.

Cody Gakpo, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ibrahima Konate of Liverpool during a training session (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Cody Gakpo, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ibrahima Konate of Liverpool during a training session (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

“It’s very positive because I have been at this club for five years now and I have won every trophy with this beautiful club and I know how much it means - each one. To play under this manager and with these guys, it is a joy and something he will enjoy as well.”

Liverpool are without injured forwards Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino and Van Dijk believes Gakpo’s arrival will provide a boost.

He said: “We need quality players and we need players who can decide games and I think over time he can definitely be one of those players, hopefully. So quality is always welcome at this football club.”