Jamie Carragher has claimed that Virgil van Dijk's resurgence is the key reason behind Liverpool's upturn in form this season.
The Reds sit top of the Premier League table after 20 games so far in 2023/24. With 45 points, they are a full 13 points better off than at this point last season.
Jurgen Klopp's tactical tweaks, involving Trent Alexander-Arnold pushing into midfield, and the summer rebuild have taken much of the credit for Liverpool's changing fortunes. However, Carragher has insisted that Van Dijk's form is key.
He said on Sky Sports: “There has been a lot made about the midfield and rightly so.
“The six transfers Liverpool were involved in over the summer were all about midfield, but Liverpool have got Virgil van Dijk back to his best.”
Carragher went on to outline how Van Dijk's best seasons have coincided with team's most successful, while the defender's only notable dip in performance during 2022/23 was also the same year that Liverpool struggled.
“When Van Dijk’s out with the ACL [in 2020/21], when he plays five games, look how many goals Liverpool concede, 42,” Carragher said.
“In that last season [2022/23], he played 32 games but goals conceded: 47. Points they got: 67.
“That was the only bad season Virgil van Dijk has had at Liverpool.”
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 1, 2024
The Liverpool captain has excelled at the heart of defence this season and finished 2023 with the highest success rate in aerial duels of any player in Europe's top five leagues – of players who have 100+ attempts.
The Dutchman was one of two Liverpool players named in Opta's Team of the Season for the first half of the Premier League campaign and has still not been dribbled past in the Premier League this season – a stat that the former Southampton man is familiar with.
Carragher added of Van Dijk: “He can take on any striker physically, winning headers, strength-wise, pace-wise, and that’s back.”