The Dutchman and Joel Matip resume their partnership in the middle of defence after both suffering from fitness issues in 2020-21
Virgil van Dijk made his first Liverpool start since October 2020 against Norwich City on Saturday to complete his return from a serious knee injury.
The Netherlands defender had not feature for 10 months after damaging the anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee in last October’s Merseyside derby against Everton.
However, after missing the majority of the 2020-21 season and also Euro 2020, he is now fit again and back in Jurgen Klopp’s first XI.
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Back in the middle
Van Dijk was selected at centre-back alongside fellow returnee Joel Matip for Saturday’s trip to Norfolk to face newly promoted Norwich.
Matip also missed a large portion of the last campaign after suffering an ankle ligament injury in January; while Joe Gomez makes the bench at Carrow Road having recovered from his own season-ending knee injury in November 2020.
The loss of three key defenders contributed to a disappointing term for Liverpool, who failed to retain their Premier League title and eventually had to settle for third place behind Manchester City and United.
The build-up to this weekend’s Premier League curtain-raiser saw Van Dijk sign a new contract at Anfield, and he stated his hope that last season’s injury nightmare was behind him.
“It is something to be very proud of, that I am very proud of, that my wife and my kids are very proud of and obviously my agency. All the hard work we’ve put in so far continues and I am looking forward to what the future brings together with Liverpool. I’m delighted, very happy and proud,” he told the club’s official website.
“Since day one when I joined the club, I felt so much appreciation from the fans and from my teammates and the staff, that I could be a very important member of this football club.
“It has been going well; unfortunately last season for me personally has been a season to forget, to learn from and take with me, but I have enjoyed my time here and will keep enjoying it in the next couple of years altogether with all of you.”
The Dutchman joined Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 for a club-record fee of £75 million ($104m), and immediately made his presence felt as he strengthened the Reds’ backline alongside fellow new arrival, goalkeeper Alisson.
The Netherlands captain has made 130 appearances for the club, scoring 13 goals, while boasting Premier League and Champions League winner’s medals during his two and a half years at Anfield to date.