"We are not robots" - Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk hits back at Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten over Netherlands captaincy criticism

Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Van Dijk has been under fire recently.

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has lashed out at Dutch legends Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit over their recent comments, accusing them of having unrealistic expectations from players.

Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands secured a 3-0 win over Gibraltar in their second 2024 European Championship qualifier on Monday (March 27). The win offered them a much-needed respite following a 4-0 defeat to France in their first 2024 European qualifier three days earlier.

Despite Van Dijk fare well against Gibraltar, Van Basten and Gullit slammed the Liverpool star. Van Basten urged Koeman to appoint a new captain, claiming Van Dijk does not possess leadership traits. The former Milan ace said (via Sportbible):

"A true captain thinks out loud and makes the situation on the pitch clear to everyone. But Virgil van Dijk is always stuck in between. He creates chaos, which creates misunderstandings on the pitch. You should avoid this as a captain.”

Gullit, meanwhile, accused the Oranje captain of playing safe:

"Virgil van Dijk should lead the play on the ball. But no, he passes it sideways to Geertruida. ... 'you do it'. He doesn't take any responsibility on the ball. He plays so secure, so safe!”

The Liverpool No. 4 hit back at the pair, saying that it's only human to slip up from time to time. Van Dijk said:

"These days, everyone is allowed to have an opinion. That's how it is. It's pretty normal that you can't always be consistent. That you go through phases as a club and player looking for better form. This is human. Every week I try to play the best game of my life. But unfortunately, this doesn't always work out. People should remember that we are not robots; maybe people forget this sometimes."

Xabi Alonso likens Liverpool target with Lionel Messi

Former Liverpool star and current Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso has heaped praise on Florian Wirtz, likening his playing style with Argentina icon Lionel Messi's.

Alonso said that Wirtz has the intelligence to play simple passes when required, akin to the Barcelona legend:

“Why is Messi so good? Because he knows how and when to play simple passes. Messi says: 'You're in a better position? Here, there you have the ball!' It's not always about making the most brilliant move, but the best and smartest. Florian can do that. That's why he's so good.”

According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona are interested in the 19-year-old playmaker. Leverkusen, though, are confident of keeping him till at least June 2024.

Wirtz has featured in 13 games for Leverkusen across competitions this season, recording two goals and six assists. His contract expires in June 2027.

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Edited by Sushan Chakraborty
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