Virgil van Dijk is “still one of the best centre-backs in the world” and one “shaky performance” against Leeds is not about to tarnish that reputation or force Liverpool to seek out further defensive reinforcements, says John Barnes.
A commanding Netherlands international put in an unconvincing display on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Premier League season.
Uncharacteristic errors allowed Leeds to remain in the game against the defending champions, with only the heroics of hat-trick star Mohamed Salah edging Jurgen Klopp’s side to a 4-3 win.
Van Dijk faced accusations of becoming arrogant in the wake of an uninspiring showing, with the Dutchman having been a model of consistency throughout his time at Anfield.
Barnes believes too much is being made of a rare off day, with Liverpool still boasting a centre-half on their books who slots seamlessly into the global elite.
The former Reds star told BonusCodeBets: “It was a shaky performance from Virgil, but that the first shaky game he’s had with Liverpool, so I wouldn’t read too much into that.
“Obviously, it’s not ideal when you concede three goals, but it’s a one off. I can’t see Liverpool’s defence being weak for the rest of the season.
“Opening Premier League games always see some interesting results and performances, so I won't read too much into that at all. He’s still one of the best centre-backs in the world.”
Pressed further on whether Liverpool may be tempted to dip into the transfer market for another centre-half, with added competition for places helping to keep everyone on their toes, Barnes added: “There’s no need to panic.
“With [Dejan] Lovren leaving, they might want another defender, possibly.
“However, with the same team that we had last year, we’re 25 points better than anybody else. So, I don’t know why people have doubts about our performance this season.
“Obviously Jurgen Klopp will be looking at trying to refresh the squad, but I don’t think Liverpool’s season will depend on them getting another centre-back.”
Liverpool swept to a record-setting title triumph in 2019-20, their first in 30 years, and Barnes believes they will remain the team to beat this term despite facing some early questions.
He said: “There’s no complacency whatsoever. Jurgen Klopp has his team playing with determination, effort and commitment. It wasn’t great defending at times against Leeds, but there wasn’t any complacency.
“Leeds are a good and dangerous team. They’ll get results in the Premier League because teams will attack them, whereas in the Championship, teams were more likely to defend in numbers against Leeds. Teams wouldn’t attack and leave space for Leeds to get in behind.
“I didn’t expect Liverpool to concede three goals, but Leeds are a good attacking side and responded strongly to going a goal down. Out of Leeds, Fulham and West Brom, I don’t think Leeds will be in danger of relegation.”