Joe Gomez tells Arne Slot exactly how important Virgil van Dijk is to Liverpool

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has sent new boss Arne Slot a clear message about Virgil van Dijk. The 27-year-old has highlighted the role Van Dijk plays behind the scenes and how 'proud' he is to wear the armband.

Van Dijk, 32, was handed the captaincy by Jürgen Klopp last summer following the departure of Jordan Henderson. Liverpool had just endured one of the most disappointing campaigns in recent years after missing out on Champions League football and was in desperate need of new leadership on the pitch.

Following a reshuffle of the team which saw Henderson, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho and others leave the club, Van Dijk stepped up as one of the senior members of the squad. In his first season as captain, Liverpool secured the Carabao Cup and qualified for the Champions League once again with a third-place finish.

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The club is now entering a new era this summer following the departure of Klopp at the end of the 2023/24 season. New boss Arne Slot will take charge in the coming weeks and Gomez has been quick to highlight just how important Van Dijk - who will be entering the final year of his contract this summer - is to the team.

“100 percent [proud]. I’m incredibly happy for him. I can’t put it into words. I know what it means for him, and I really get to see the inside and how things sometimes are tough," Gomez said to The Anfield Wrap.

“It’s a massively pressured position to be in; following Hendo’s footsteps after the year we had, a lot of unknowns and uncertainties, the way Virg has just stepped up and just taken every responsibility that comes with it.

"The little things that people might not see in a training ground when you need to make decisions or enforce moments when it’s like, ‘Lads, we need to be better at this’ or it might be timekeeping, it might be different things that you don’t want to slip out of place.

“Virg has done it in his own way, and it’s made him even more appreciated amongst us as a team. His ability speaks for itself; he’s the best at what he does, he’s the best in the world and probably the best the club has ever had in that position.

“But the way he has handled it off the pitch as a leader, and on the pitch, in moments when we’ve had tough defeats and it’s not even hesitation, he’ll step up and go and speak and represent us all and how we feel.

“It’s been a joy to watch, he has taken it more than in his stride. I’m so happy for him and I’m sure he’s incredibly proud to be captain of his country and his club. The way he does it speaks for itself.”

Van Dijk himself has also commented on his future when asked about the arrival of Slot, where he added: "I still have a year left on my contract. I am the club captain and I have made it clear I am there for the new coach and enthusiastic over the next season. Obviously, there will be a lot of changes but I am confident we will make a big success of it.

"I congratulated him of course and I'm really pleased for him and his family. We spoke about the team and the future, but now my focus is fully on the national team." says: Despite his age, Van Dijk showed throughout last season that he is capable of competing with the very best. He was nominated for Premier League Player of the Season and the club should do everything in its power to extend his stay. His presence could be vital in ensuring Slot easing into the role and hits the ground running.