Virgil van Dijk on Liverpool captaincy: ‘It would be a huge honour’

Virgil van Dijk says it would be “a huge honour” if he’s confirmed as Liverpool’s new captain as Jurgen Klopp urged his players to embrace a summer of change at Anfield.

The Dutch centre-back is expected to be handed the armband on a permanent basis following Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi outfit Al Ettifaq.

“The captaincy has not been announced yet so I can’t say much about it,” Van Dijk said.

“But obviously I’ve captained the side multiple times already over the last couple of years and it’s always a proud moment. We will see what the future brings but it would be a huge honour to captain the side.”

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s friendly with Leicester City in Singapore, Klopp said: “I already know my decision (on the captaincy) but I have to tell the players first before I speak in public about it.

“I didn’t expect to have that situation a few weeks ago. It all happened pretty quickly.

“It’s a big change for us. Big characters left the club this summer. But things have to change at some point. Now we have to use it. The boys understand this situation.”

With Henderson’s exit preceded by James Milner’s move to Brighton, Liverpool have lost both their captain and vice-captain this summer.

Klopp’s leadership group has been reduced from six to four with Van Dijk joined by Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Alisson. However, the manager insists others are ready to take on more responsibility.

“It’s not that the team was only led by Millie and Hendo. They were important characters absolutely but without the others, it wouldn’t have worked out,” Klopp added.

“Nobody has to be the next James Milner or the next Jordan Henderson, they can just be themselves. That gives us a real chance for a new and fresh development. That’s what you need whenever you have big changes. First people want changes and then you have the changes and everyone is worrying about the changes.

“When you make proper changes you never know beforehand if it will work out but we are really optimistic about it. We are excited as well. The main impression I get in all the sessions so far is that the boys are really up to it. They really mean business. I like it a lot.”

Van Dijk said: “Yeah I see leaders definitely and players who can become leaders of the team. We have a lot of players who can and have to take responsibility. I’m confident that will happen. Those names who left us were very important for us with their experience and quality. Now others have to step up.”

Asked whether he was surprised that Henderson had wanted to leave Liverpool after receiving a lucrative offer from Saudi, Klopp said: “Yeah of course.”

Did he try to convince him to stay? “It’s not about that. The relationship between Hendo and me grew over eight years.

“He knew the situation — that we wanted to keep him, but if he wanted to leave there was no reason why we should throw any rocks and stones in the way. It was full of respect.

“It wasn’t about me convincing him. It was about me reacting to what was happening. That’s how I understood my role.

“When you see the video the boys made for him. When you watch that you know everything about the man. Everyone would wish their friends spoke like that when you leave somewhere. He’s not here anymore. Jordan will miss us and we will miss him. But we have to go on and we will.”

On Henderson’s departure, Van Dijk said: “He is going to be a big miss for us, as a player and definitely as a leader. He is someone who has been so important for us in our success over the last years. But that’s part of football, players come and go, and others have to step up now and that’s the reality.”

(Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

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