The Liverpool captain says it is “hard to take” that Klopp will quit Anfield at the end of the season, but he is adamant a desire to give him the perfect send-off will fuel players’ ambitions.
“We all want to achieve so much and that mindset was already there since pre-season and that doesn’t change,” said Van Dijk.
“It will maybe even give you an extra boost to do that extra or maybe enjoy it a little bit even more together 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.”
A message to Liverpool supporters from Jürgen Klopp. pic.twitter.com/l7rtmxgOzt
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 26, 2024
Klopp kept his decision away from all but his closest confidantes for two months after informing Fenway Sports Group executives in November.
Van Dijk heard shortly before Klopp’s announcement via the club’s media channels and admits he was as shocked as the rest of the football world.
“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,” said Van Dijk. “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.
“He told us in private of course, and all of us were together. Like I said, it’s a hard one to take but our mindset is to focus on business. We have a lot of targets to achieve this year and why not finish the season on a high and together with celebrations for the boss as well?”
The guessing game about who will replace Klopp has already begun, with Xabi Alonso and Roberto De Zerbi the most obvious early candidates. Alonso is performing brilliantly in the Bundesliga and has an emotional connection to the Kop, and FSG will not have to look far to find detailed insights into De Zerbi’s work given the crossover of current and ex-Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion players at the respective clubs.
Van Dijk insists the squad will park any distractions to focus solely on the rest of this one.
“We always try to manage noise from the outside,” he said. “Of course this is massive, it’s massive news in football. For us, it was also a very big day. But we have big targets this year and that’s definitely stressed by the manager as well. For us and for me personally as well, I want to make sure the rest of the boys think like that too.”