Ahead of Liverpool’s crucial match against Leicester City, Claude Puel wanted to remind everyone of his involvement in Virgil van Dijk’s discovery.
As the nail-biting match between Liverpool and Leicester City approaches fast on Wednesday, manager Claude Puel is still adamant on taking full credit for Virgil van Dijk becoming one of the best defenders in the world today.
The French manager coached the Dutch player during their time together at Southampton and he claims that he learned the best trades of a defender under his command, Jürgen Klopp’s involvement in the centre-back’s rise to stardom had very little influence on the player according to Claude Puel.
The way that the Foxes’ manager explains the whole process that Virgil had to go through under his watchful eye is quite interesting, there are very few managers who usually take credit for a player’s level of performance and this case is quite unique among others.
For the upcoming match later this Wednesday, manager Jürgen Klopp already confirmed that there is no assurance of the Dutch defender playing against Leicester City but he may align him for this crucial match after Manchester City lots against Newcastle United on Tuesday.
— Sports Feedr (@SFeedr) January 30, 2019
“When I came in at Southampton, Virgil was a good player but he was too comfortable,” said Puel in a press conference via Sky Sports.
“We know all the great teams like to have possession, to play high up the pitch. The defenders need to learn to defend with a lot of space behind them, to make cover and defend often one against one and remain compact.”
“So we worked with different moves and examples of international teams to look at the defenders and the different aspects of a modern defender.”
“He was angry at the beginning but, step by step, he corrected things and improved. He took another dimension. But Virgil has had always a big character and strong personality.”
“At the beginning, sometimes it was difficult between both of us, but step by step I think he understood. He became a modern defender in this time and performed game after game.”
“When one time he came back from his national team, I had watched his game and said it was perfect — his movement and cover. He had just a little smile and after this time he has had fantastic consistency, quality and performances.”
“He listened in the end and is a fantastic player and competitor. He is strong, powerful, fast, technical and he can play under pressure without a problem.”
“I said at Southampton Virgil was the best defender in the world. But he confirmed it with Liverpool. I hope Harry can follow the same way.”
“Harry has also different attributes but a lot of aspects in his play to become a fantastic defender. He is a very good defender and can become one of the best in the world if he continues to improve.”
Claude Puel has revealed how he turned Virgil van Dijk into a £75million defender by taking him out of his ‘comfort zone.’
“He became a modern defender in this time and performed game after game.”https://t.co/5sNViq4tp8
— Anfield HQ (@AnfieldHQ) January 29, 2019
But Virgil van Dijk’s story as one one of the best defenders in the world has only just begun, he is arguably one of the best defenders playing in English football right now but there is still a set of targets he needs to meet in order to be considered amongst the very best in the world.
The only way in which Virgil van Dijk can already be named next to players like Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Mats Hummels, or Raphael Varane, is if he wins the major trophies on a consistent basis.
Right now, the Dutchman is nothing but a very good defender with the potential to become one of the best in the world.
Claude Puel is a little rash to make the assumption that Virgil already is one of the best, the player still hasn’t proved anything but odds are that he will do that very soon.
And also, taking credit for a player who was destined to explode may be considered vanity from the French manager’s part.
"He is one of the best defenders in the world and he has all the qualities to become the best."
Virgil van Dijk's former manager Claude Puel has his says on the transfer of the moment.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 28, 2017
What’s your take on Claude Puel taking full credit for Virgil van Dijk’s status as one of the best defenders in the world? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.