Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk says he is 'dreading' Jurgen Klopp's exit

The defender spoke with ITV News' Sports Editor Steve Scott about chasing silverware, his advice for Klopp's successor and supporting young talent

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk says he is "dreading" Jurgen Klopp’s departure from Anfield at the end of the season.

"I’m a very emotional person and I don’t like to say goodbyes," he told ITV News.

"Being the captain now as well, it’s going to be horrible in that sense, because probably I’ll have to speak a little bit, and like I said - that day I’ll be dreading… It makes it a lot easier if we have success."

Klopp announced his bombshell decision to leave the club earlier this year.

Van Dijk was appointed captain by the German manager last summer, and the two have a close relationship.

"It’s not only the bosses leaving," van Dijk said.

Liverpool legends Virgil van Dijk and Jurgen Klopp. Credit: PA

"It’s going to be a lot of changes and more staff leaving… It will be a tough day, but until the day that we’ll fight and be positive and put all our focus into that to be positive."

Liverpool are top of the Premier League with nine games left to play, two points ahead of Arsenal and three in front of champions Manchester City, who are competing for their fourth consecutive title.

Both of Liverpool’s league rivals are in action on Wednesday evening.

"We know the end of the season will be emotional. But we can make it emotional in a good way by winning trophies," van Dijk said.

Asked what success for Liverpool would look like this season, he added: "Winning the two remaining trophies, that is success.

"The only influence we have is the games that we play… We have to embrace it, we have to enjoy it, we have to go out there and fight."

Liverpool lost to Manchester United in the final of the FA Cup last month but could still win the Europa League and the Premier League.

Van Dijk, Klopp, and the rest of the Liverpool team celebrate their Carabao Cup win in February. Credit: PA

No matter how the Reds perform in the remainder of the season, following in the footsteps of the charismatic and much-loved Klopp will be a daunting prospect, but whoever gets that job may just get a helping hand.

Van Dijk’s contract expires in 2025 and his future at Liverpool had been questioned after he admitted he "didn’t know" whether he’d play under Klopp’s successor earlier this year.

But despite being linked to a move away from Anfield, van Dijk indicated to ITV News that he’s staying put, more than suggesting he’ll still be around when the new boss takes charge.

Van Dijk said if the new manager wanted advice he’d be happy to offer it, and he would encourage them to be their own man: "You want to do things in your own way, what you think is important for the team and what will be successful to the team.

"That's what you bring to the table as well.

"I'm sure that a new manager will definitely have that feeling but if there's any questions or anything that he would like me to advise him on I would definitely do that.”

Van Dijk was speaking exclusively to ITV News at the launch of this year’s McDonald’s Fun Football programme, which aims to encourage participation in the sport through free coaching sessions for children.

After taking part in a park kick-around with dozen of local schools pupils in the shadow of Anfield, the 32-year-old said: "To see the smiles on their faces, the excitement, it is just amazing. I’m a proud dad of four kids and I know what it can do to the new generation."

Van Dijk added he hoped to nurture Liverpool’s own young stars.

Five of the Liverpool XI on the final whistle of their dramatic Carabao Cup win over Chelsea were aged 20 or younger, earning them the nickname 'Jurgen Klopp’s kids'.

"I’ll help them take it slow, but obviously they would love to do it as fast as possible, but it is just a start, and they will keep developing but there will be a lot of hurdles along the way and that is something I definitely make sure that they know that."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…