Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool will not see the best of Virgil van Dijk until he has adapted to the Reds’ style of defending, a process that could take the rest of the season.
The Netherlands international announced himself after a reported £75million move from Southampton with the winning goal on debut against Everton in the FA Cup, but he is yet to become a regular starter under Klopp.
He was benched for Tuesday’s victory over Huddersfield Town, a decision Klopp insisted was “normal” given Van Dijk has only just arrived in Liverpool.
And Klopp is prepared to give 26-year-old plenty of time to settle into life on Merseyside after a stop-start campaign so far.
“I am very happy with him,” Klopp told a media conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with Tottenham.
“We will see Van Dijk at his best after the summer, but he can bring a lot of things already.
“Our defending style is different to Southampton and Holland, which is why it makes sense to get used to it.
“When Virgil came he was not match fit, he had a long injury, then he played, then he didn’t, then the transfer was an open case. So, it has not been a consistent season [for him].
“Against Everton he was outstanding, against Swansea he was good and he was involved in the biggest chances we had. West Brom was a bad game for the whole team, then it made sense to rotate.
“It’s what we expect, he has lots to do and work on.”
Klopp also addressed comments from Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher that Van Dijk looked overweight, the German quipping: “I’m sure Jamie needs to lose a bit of weight, but for Virgil it’s not the case.
“He’s a big and tall player, it is not an issue.”