Van Dijk reveals how Klopp keeps him grounded as Liverpool star waits on Ballon d’Or vote

Virgil van Dijk has credited Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp with keeping him humble as he continues to chase down the most prestigious prizes in world football.

The Dutch defender is the reigning UEFA Player of the Year and king of the 2019 Goal 50.

He is also a Champions League winner with the Reds and is in the process of chasing down the Premier League title.

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It could be that the prestigious Ballon d’Or is soon added to his enviable collection of honours, with the 27-year-old centre-half expected to challenge Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi for that crown.

Even if he does top that vote, there is no chance of Van Dijk getting swept up in the hype which surrounds his game as Klopp is eager to keep focus locked on the collective, rather than individuals, at Anfield.

“I have a very similar connection with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool as I had earlier with Ronald Koeman at Southampton,” Van Dijk said.

“Like Koeman, Klopp knows exactly how to get the best out of me – by being critical.

“When the media are hyping me and being very positive, he will downplay the praise and all that – often with a wink.

“And when I was voted UEFA Player of the Year and had to go to the ceremony, Jurgen told all the lads that I was picking up the trophy on behalf of the entire team.

“All the boys in the squad know I can take that sort of stuff very well. I know what he means. At the same time, the boss gives me a lot of respect and responsibility.”

Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2019-20
Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2019-20

Van Dijk’s £75 million ($97m) transfer to Liverpool in January 2018 is considered to have played a leading role in the Reds becoming serious contenders for major silverware.

They are currently eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table, as they seek to land a first title in 30 years, but those on Merseyside are aware that there is still a long way to go in the battle for domestic supremacy.

Van Dijk, who has withdrawn from the latest Netherlands squad for personal reasons, added: “Of course I can sense how much winning the title is spoken about.

“For our fans, winning the championship has been way too long, so they place the Premier league title above everything else.

“We need to keep the fever outside. Klopp tells us every week, ‘Focus on the next match,’ and I agree.

“We are doing all right but it is only November. The hardest months are still waiting.”

Liverpool will be back in Premier League action on Saturday when they take in a trip to Crystal Palace.

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