Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender says he had to 'step up' his game at Anfield

Virgil van Dijk admits he needed to 'step up his game' after joining Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk says he had to "step up" his game when he joined Liverpool for £75m in January.

The former Celtic and Southampton centre-back, 26, scored on his debut at Anfield against Everton in the FA Cup.

However, Van Dijk says he has needed time to adapt to Jurgen Klopp's high-tempo, pressing style of play.

"I am getting used to how we play," he told Football Focus. "The intensity of our game is a lot higher than what I was used to."

The Netherlands international added: "Every day here is tough. We work very hard, run a lot and there is a big difference. I needed to step up my game, especially in the beginning. "

Van Dijk joined the Saints from Celtic for £13m in September 2015.

He had been expected to move to Liverpool last summer after he handed in a transfer request but a move fell through when the Anfield club apologised for making an alleged illegal approach and he was forced to train alone by manager Mauricio Pellegrino.

Southampton 2016-17Liverpool 2017-18
Minutes Played1854360
Distance per 90 mins (km)8.39.2
Sprints per 90 mins30.234

A late Van Dijk header settled a Merseyside derby in the FA Cup third round on 5 January.

Speaking about his debut he added: "It was a crazy and busy week, something special that I will never forget. I wasn't even supposed to start the [Everton] game."

Liverpool are third in the Premier League, two points behind Manchester United, and thrashed Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

"I came here to achieve everything possible," said Van Dijk.

"I made the choice to come here base on everything. I love the fans, the atmosphere in the stadium and at away games. The quality we have in our team is unbelievable. I am proud and happy to be here.

"Klopp is very good and an amazing guy as well. A lot of the attributes he has makes us achieve good things in the future."

Watch: The last time Liverpool & Everton met in the FA Cup in 2018

You can watch the full interview on Football Focus on BBC One on Saturday from 12:00 GMT.

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