Van Dijk had to 'step up' after sealing Liverpool switch

After leaving Southampton for Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk had to accept that his previous levels were not going to cut it for Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk   -  Getty Images

Virgil van Dijk acknowledged he has had to "step up" his game since leaving Southampton for Liverpool in a move he hopes will allow him to win "everything possible".

Netherlands international Van Dijk had long been linked with a move to Liverpool before eventually sealing a transfer at the end of December, officially moving to the club once the January transfer window opened.

The Reds had reportedly been keen on the centre-back before he suffered a serious ankle injury in January 2017 and pushed hard for his signature during pre-season.

Although they failed on that occasion, Liverpool eventually got their man for £75million – a world-record fee for a defender – and he revealed it has not been an easy transition.

"I am getting used to how we play. The intensity of our game is a lot higher than what I was used to," Van Dijk told BBC Sport.

"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.

"I came here to achieve everything possible. I made the choice to come here based 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.

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

Van Dijk came in for a lot of criticism from some Southampton fans for allegedly becoming disinterested when it became apparent he was going to be staying at St Mary's at the start of the season.

But he is adamant that was not his intention, insisting he kept his "head down."

"People don't know what really happened," the 26-year-old added. "I kept my head down and kept playing. I was out for eight months and was just happy to play again.

"I just switched on again after the transfer window in the summer. I didn't think about anything until I got a phone call from the Southampton board."