Virgil van Dijk: Jordan Henderson an 'Important Factor' in Liverpool Transfer

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2019

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk, right, and Liverpool's Jordan Henderson before a training session at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, May 25, 2018 ahead of the Champions League final soccer match between Real Madrid and Liverpool on Saturday May 26. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has said Reds captain Jordan Henderson was key in his move to the club in January 2018.

Liverpool paid a then-world-record £75 million to sign Van Dijk from Southampton, and he has gone on to make a huge impression at Anfield.

Speaking to ESPN's Melissa Reddy, Van Dijk said Henderson "painted the picture for me and made it easy to join." The Dutchman also described the midfielder as an "important factor" in his decision to move to Liverpool.

Van Dijk came close to joining the Reds in the summer of 2017, and the defender said the interactions he had with supporters following the failed move increased his desire to join:

"That summer when I made the decision until I actually joined the club, I had so many Liverpool fans coming up to me wherever I went—everywhere—telling me how much they wanted me to sign for the club.

"That gave me a bit of a feeling of how big Liverpool is and how passionate the supporters are. When you look at the Barcelona game [in last season's Champions League semi-finals], the scenes from the parade in the city and you watch videos of them celebrating all over the world, it says everything. It's unbelievable to be involved in something so special."

Van Dijk is one of the main reasons that Liverpool supporters have had success to celebrate as of late.

He has developed into one of the best centre-backs in world football, providing a dominant presence at the base of the Liverpool side.

Van Dijk is physical, composed and has natural defensive instincts; it means he's an extremely difficult defender for opposition forwards to get past:

Leanne Prescott @_lfcleanne

Van Dijk gets dribbled past for the first time in 65 competitive appearances (dating back to March 2018) & Twitter erupts. Shows the ridiculous standard he's set himself as the best centre-back in the league/world.

Van Dijk is also capable of having an impact in the opposition box. The defender was key in Liverpool's equaliser against Manchester City in the Community Shield on Sunday:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

🅰️ Van Dijk ⚽️ Matip Liverpool are level as their centre-backs link up at Wembley! Great composure from Van Dijk! 👊 https://t.co/8ciJMqmzli

Henderson has developed as a captain in recent years for Liverpool, and his influence was clear on the side as they challenged for major titles in latter stages of the 2018-19 season.

The midfielder was given more license to attack by Klopp in the second half of the campaign, and he responded with some dynamic displays at the hub of the team.

Van Dijk has had glowing praise for the 29-year-old in the past, too:

Neil Jones @neiljonesgoal

Virgil van Dijk on Jordan Henderson, to @ESPNFC "If any young player wants to follow an example, it should be him. He is a fantastic leader who everyone respects so much at Liverpool, and I'm very happy that he is my captain." #LFC https://t.co/mW1uSJ9qOU

The signing of Van Dijk was followed by a busy summer for Liverpool, as they moved for Fabinho, Alisson Becker, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri in a transfer window of major spending. As of yet, manager Jurgen Klopp has not bolstered his squad with any senior players in 2019.

Even so, with Van Dijk a force of nature in defence for Liverpool, the foundations are there for the team to enjoy another memorable campaign. Based on Sunday's 1-1 draw between the Reds and City, which the latter eventually won via a penalty shootout, the two sides are evenly matched again going into the new season.