Virgil van Dijk said the news of Jurgen Klopp’s departure from Liverpool at the end of the season was “hard to take”, but the Reds’ captain is hoping to send his manager out on a high.
Liverpool are five points clear at the top of the Premier League and in the running for three more trophies in the League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League.
Klopp announced his shock decision to step down on Friday, explaining that he no longer has the energy to keep going after nearly nine years in charge at Anfield.
“It’s a hard one to take, because the manager means so much for us, to me, to the club, to the whole Premier League I think,” said Van Dijk, who was brought to Liverpool by Klopp for a then world record £75 million fee for a defender in 2018.
“But he made the decision for him and his family. It was always going to be a tough one and it was definitely the case.”
Liverpool host Norwich in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday at what is sure to be an emotionally-charged Anfield in the first match since the news broke.
Klopp’s men this week also reached the League Cup final, where they will face Chelsea next month, and are the favourites for the Europa League having already qualified for the last 16.
“We have a lot of targets still to achieve this year and why not finish the season on a high and together with celebrations for the boss as well?” Van Dijk said.
“Let’s make the rest of the season a special one so he can have the farewell that he definitely deserves.”
Liverpool are keen to avoid the fate suffered by Manchester United in 2001/02 when the Red Devils struggled after Alex Ferguson announced his intention to retire, only for the Scot to later change his mind and stay on at Old Trafford for another decade.
Klopp insisted there will be no change of heart on his decision and Van Dijk believes it could give his players extra motivation in what remains of the campaign
“It will maybe even give you an extra boost to do that extra (bit) or maybe enjoy it a little bit even more together,” added the Dutchman.
“And make the last part of the season, the last bit of the manager’s time at the club, the best time he’s ever had. That’s what we strive for and that’s why it’s business as usual.”
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