Van Dijk hits out at critics following Liverpool struggles since injury return

Virgil van Dijk has hit out at those who have criticised him for his performances for Liverpool since he returned from a long-term injury.

The Dutch defender was ruled out for much of last season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in a Merseyside derby clash with Everton.

After months on the sidelines, Van Dijk returned to start the Premier League season, starting all but two games in the top-flight since then the win over Norwich on the opening day.

But he has come under fire for his performances since making that return, particularly following the Reds’ thrilling draw at title rivals Chelsea last week.

Former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink branded him ‘lazy’ for his actions in the build-up to Christian Pulisic’s goals, with Gary Neville observing that he looked “uncomfortable”.

And the Reds star has now hit back at that stinging criticism, having captained Liverpool to a comfortable win over Shrewsbury Town in the third round of the FA Cup.

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“I don’t mind; I’ve set the bar high myself. When you are on the pitch, everyone thinks you are 100 per cent, and I understand that too,” he told De Telegraaf.

“Whether you have been ill or were out of action for a year due to a serious injury does not count for the outside world.

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“You have won all those awards, and so that has become the standard. But I’m doing my very best at this club and try to play the best game I can every week.”

Van Dijk admitted that he has committed errors this season, but hinted that the criticism of him has been harsh.

“There have definitely been moments when things could have been better. But I am also a human being, and everyone makes mistakes,” he added.

“I know myself that I am doing everything I can to stay at top level. It’s just that we live in an age where everyone, especially on social media, makes their opinions public.

“There are even bigger platforms, and that can have quite an impact on your well-being.”

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