Former Ajax winger Kenneth Perez recently hit out at Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk, claiming the centre-back is not the undisputed captain of the Netherlands national team.
Virgil van Dijk has established himself as one of the best defenders of this generation since joining Liverpool from Southampton over five years ago. The Dutchman is renowned for his leadership, aerial prowess, strength, and in-game intelligence and finished runner-up to Lionel Messi for the 2019 Ballon d'Or.
Van Dijk recently captained the Netherlands national team to consecutive victories against Greece (3-0) and Ireland (2-1) in their bid to qualify for the 2024 UEFA Euros. They are currently second in Group B with nine points, six behind leaders France.
Despite being ahead of third-placed Greece, the Netherlands' situation could have been a lot different if they hadn't been able to mount a comeback against Ireland. Van Dijk was guilty of giving away a fourth-minute penalty, enabling Adam Idah to score.
Perez spoke to ESPN's Voetbalpraat, Virgil van Dijk doesn't look like a leader for the Netherlands. He also believes Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong looks more of a captain than the Liverpool man. He said (via Inside Futbol):
“I don’t see him as the undisputed leader of the Dutch national team at all. I think Frenkie de Jong is much more of a leader, to be honest, in how he presents himself and how he performs."
“He is an undisputed starter and a star player at Barcelona. I think ‘undisputed’ is heavily emphasised in Van Dijk. I don’t think he looks like a leader at all."
Van Dijk made his international debut in 2015 before being appointed captain in March 2018. He captained his side to the 2019 UEFA Nations League final, narrowly losing to Portugal.
While his individual form has been questionable, Van Dijk is still considered an integral component for both Liverpool and the Netherlands.
Liverpool name their final squad for the Europa League group stage; forced to leave veteran out
Liverpool have submitted their final squad for the 2023-24 UEFA Europa League. Jurgen Klopp had the tough decision of omitting veteran goalkeeper Adrian from the final list. However, a UEFA loophole means, he could feature should a long-term injury occur to either Allison Becker or Caoimhin Kelleher.
Jurgen Klopp will have the following players available for the Europa League group stages (via This is Anfield):
Goalkeepers: Allison Becker, Caoimhin Kelleher, Vitezslav Jaros
Defenders: Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Kostas Tsimikas, Andy Robertson, Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold
Midfielders: Wataru Endo, Thiago Alcantara, Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones, Ryan Gravenberch, Bobby Clark
Forwards: Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota, Ben Doak
Marcelo Pitaluga, Jarell Quansah, Conor Bradley, Stefan Bajcetic, and Harvey Elliott are set to be named on List B and will also be available for selection. This list comprises players who are born on or after January 1, 2002, and have spent two years with Liverpool.