Virgil van Dijk under pressure as Liverpool skipper faces calls for captaincy to be stripped

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has come under pressure from wild reports in the Netherlands suggesting national team boss Ronald Koeman should strip him of his captaincy.

The Dutchman is currently donning the armband for his nation at this summer's European Championships where it has reached its first semi final at the tournament since 2004, yet some aren't happy with his performances and demand to see a change.

Van Dijk has played every minute of the Netherlands' tournament so far in Germany and despite being part of a defence that has conceded five goals in six games. There have been two clean sheets so far, one during the draw with France in the group stage and another while beating Romania in the Round of 16.

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In the quarter-final comeback victory against Turkiye, however, Van Dijk was pulled up and criticized on his struggle to deal with the opposition's pace on the counter. Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor even branded him "poor" for his performance in the 2-1 win.

Now, one Dutch journalist has gone out of his way to suggest that Van Dijk is not the leader he is made out to be and his gameplay has become more erratic than anything else. Henk Spaan told FC Update that Inter Milan center back Stefan de Vrij is now the main leader in the team and compared Van Dijk's inconsistency to that of Memphis Depay.

Perhaps the wildest claim, however, came from fellow Dutch journo, Hugo Borst, who believes that Van Dijk should just be dropped all together when the Netherlands take on England in Wednesday's semi-final. He adds that Tottenham Hotspur's Micky van de Ven would be an adequate replacement.

The meltdown has not been well received from Reds supporters and it's understandable as to why. Van Dijk, now 33, may be heading towards the twilight years of his career but remains one of the world's best defenders and has rarely put a foot wrong for his nation at Euro 2024.

While he is best defending his own box, Van Dijk also poses a major threat from set pieces at the other end of the pitch and could be a huge asset for the Dutch if they have any plans of making it to Sunday's final. His experience as a big game player is also vital, with the defender renowned for his leadership skills.

Virgil van Dijk was overlooked by Manchester United before signing for Liverpool
One Dutch journalist has suggested Virgil van Dijk should be dropped altogether -Credit:PA

The two Dutch journalists aren't the only one's to have publicly slammed Van Dijk for his performances this summer, however. Following the Netherlands’ 3-2 loss to Austria in the group stage, former midfielder Rafael van der Vaart accused the Liverpool captain of a “lack of passion.”

But the ex-Tottenham man dramatically changed his tone after watching the 1988 European champions advance to the semifinals, claiming the Netherlands’ tackles and defensive displays at the end of the Euro 2024 semi-final win over Turkey gave him "goosebumps".

Van Dijk will now hope to win over more of his critics in Wednesday's final four showdown with England. A positive display will also go a long way in helping him to achieve his first piece of silverware on the international stage.