Legendary duo Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit have slammed Virgil van Dijk for “creating chaos” and “thinking he’s better than the rest” after the Netherlands’ 4-0 smashing to France.
Van Dijk has been an integral part of a Liverpool defence that has received plenty of criticism this season, and his performances for the Netherlands are also being scrutinised.
The Dutch captain was not at the races alongside an inexperienced defender Lutsharel Geertruida in the heart of defence in Ronald Koeman’s first game back in charge as France tore the Oranje to shreds in their Euro 2024 qualifier on Friday.
Gertjan Verbeek, the former manager of FC Twente and Feyenoord, labelled him as a “first class wimp” after the game and thgouh Van Dijk and co. returned to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Gibraltar on Monday, Van Basten left no stone unturned in having quite the pop at the Liverpool centre-back.
“He makes noise, but he doesn’t say anything,” Van Basten told Ziggo Sport.
“He is not clear. A good captain thinks aloud, makes it clear what is going on. He stays in between. He creates chaos. That leads to misunderstandings. That is what you, as a captain, must prevent.
“In the dressing room he is good, football tactically and technically not. You need another gentleman on the field. This has nothing to do with that injury, this has to do with leadership. He makes noise, but he says nothing. That’s true. This is in you. This is wanting to win at all costs.”
Ruud Gullit then joined in, and has questioned Van Dijk’s leadership abilities, accusing the Liverpool star of arrogance and the habit of “playing safe”.
“It’s walking backwards,” he said. “In England they have already criticised him. He was selected for the world team of the year. He thinks he’s better than the rest.
“We see things… Then I think, ‘you are captain, you have to solve this’–. But he’s just commenting a little on what’s happening in front of him.
“I don’t know if he’s doing it, but it doesn’t look like he’s speaking. He plays so safe. Come on now, you’re so big and good. It is a positive criticism that we give. Isn’t he the best? Then show it.”
In response to the stinging remarks directed his way, Van Dijk said: “This is of no use to me. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion these days, that’s the case.
“Did I set the bar unrealistically high? How is that possible? It was never perfect, consistent is the right word. We’ve had a lot of success with the team. Football players, they know that better than anyone, have high peaks and deep lows.
“It’s quite normal that you can’t always play consistently. That you have a phase as a club or player where you are looking for your level. People should not forget that.
“It is normal that people make mistakes, that it is part of football and that it is very human. Regardless of who gets a platform and is allowed to say what, so that things are made big. You know better than anyone when you are doing something right or not.”
Van Dijk was made the captain of the Netherlands national team in 2018 and led the side at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.