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'Van Dijk needs to be better' - Gullit wants more from Liverpool's 'missing link'

The Dutch defender has been consistently solid for the Reds but his compatriot believes his form for the national team must improve.

Netherlands and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk
Netherlands and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk

VIRGIL VAN DIJK must “be better” for Netherlands if he is to win the Ballon d’Or, according to Ruud Gullit.

The 56-year-old called for the Liverpool defender to help cut out the errors that have dogged Ronald Koeman’s team.

After winning the Champions League with Liverpool, Van Dijk helped his country reach the Nations League final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Portugal, and Koeman received widespread plaudits for turning the Oranje’s fortunes around following their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

But Gullit, who won the Ballon d’Or in 1987 ahead of Netherlands’ triumph at the 1988 European Championship, called for Van Dijk to inspire improvement in the Dutch defence.

“I think he did really, really well, especially with Liverpool. I think that he was the missing link for them,” he told Omnisport.

“For the national team I still think he needs to be better than that.

Not him only, but also [Matthijs] De Ligt because out of the last 14 games, 10 games we’ve been 1-0 down. If you have such a good defence you don’t need to concede these goals all the time.”

Van Dijk won the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Players’ Player of the Year award for his outstanding performances for Liverpool throughout 2018-19, and he is widely considered to be a contender for the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

Spain: Tottenham Hotspur - Liverpool (CL final) Liverpool's Champions League winning centre back, Virgil van Dijk. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The former PSV and Chelsea forward underlined the difficulty defensive players have in winning world football’s most coveted individual prize, pointing out that his former AC Milan team-mate and Italy great Franco Baresi did not collect the award during his career.

The last defender to win it was former Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, and Gullit feels the whole Netherlands team would need to step up to help Van Dijk fulfil his potential.

“It has to do with the whole team of course,” he added.

It is something that he has to fix. Not he himself but the whole defence, with the whole team, in order to be that player.

“Of course, defenders have not been picked a lot. Baresi should have been picked but never was. So therefore it would be a huge boost for him if he gets picked.”

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