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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk ‘has clearly been smarting’ over criticism, claims Craig Burley

Craig Burley claimed Virgil van Dijk was ‘smart’ about criticism after the defender lashed out at pundits who continue to criticize Liverpool players during their difficult start to the season.

Jürgen Klopp’s side moved past Ajax thanks to a header from Joel Matip in the 89th minute as they took their first three points of their Champions League group at Anfield on Tuesday evening.

Van Dijk, who along with all his team-mates was roundly criticized for his performance in their European opener – a 4-1 thrashing against Napoli – told BT Sport that such pundits were only trying to bring down morale at Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk lashes out at pundits criticizing Liverpool players amid their poor start to the season

Virgil van Dijk lashes out at pundits criticizing Liverpool players amid their poor start to the season

The Reds took their first points of the Champions League campaign thanks to Joel Matip

The Reds took their first points of the Champions League campaign thanks to Joel Matip

The Reds took their first points of the Champions League campaign thanks to Joel Matip

He said: “When I came back from the horror show in Naples, it was very important to show a positive reaction. It’s not easy to turn it around, but it’s a step in the right direction… It was very important to win going into the international break.

‘We don’t listen to the outside world. A lot of ex-football players, who know exactly what we are going through, say a lot to bring us down, but we know that the last game was really bad and this was a step in the right direction.”

After the explosive interview, ESPN’s Craig Burley claimed it suggested the defender was “clever” at the criticism and couldn’t handle the negative reaction, despite being praised in the past.

After the game, the defender claimed that pundits were only out to bring morale down at Liverpool

After the game, the defender claimed that pundits were only out to bring morale down at Liverpool

After the game, the defender claimed that pundits were only out to bring morale down at Liverpool

“From this beating in Naples, there was a lot of criticism of Alexander-Arnold and the back four, including Van Dijk,” Burley told ESPN FC. “He started whining about ex-players and how they forgot.

“It seems to me that here is a man who has received enough credit to get him to the moon and back, and rightly so, because for the most part he has been brilliant, yet in this period where he himself has not been great and he hasn’t got the back four well organized, he seems a bit shocked by the criticism.

‘I thought that was quite an interesting interview, not that there was a lot of talk, but it was just his reaction.

“I mean, BT’s Des Kelly didn’t even ask him about the criticism, there wasn’t a question about it, he just brought it up. So it’s clearly in his head.

1663124720 65 Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has clearly been smarting over

ESPN's Craig Burley claimed it suggested the defender was 'clever' from the criticism

ESPN’s Craig Burley Claimed It Suggested The Defender Was “Smart” Of The Criticism

He also said ‘we don’t take notice of what’s being said outside these walls’, he clearly does!

“It was just interesting to me as a man who’s basically had all the platitudes in the world and Liverpool has hit a rocky road that he’s been a part of, and he’s obviously been a little bit sore from that criticism, there’s no question about that. ‘

However, Nicol, Burley’s fellow pundit, claimed that Van Dijk had a right to be ‘prickly’ as the former Liverpool right-back hoped the Dutchman’s response would help him get back to his best.

Nicol said: ‘When you play you don’t understand what’s going on in the media and if someone, whether it’s in the paper or on the TV, criticizes you, you don’t like it. Of course you are prickly.

Fellow expert Steve Nicol hoped the Dutchman's reaction would help him get back to his best level

Fellow expert Steve Nicol hoped the Dutchman's reaction would help him get back to his best level

Fellow expert Steve Nicol hoped the Dutchman’s reaction would help him get back to his best level

“Craig was right in what he said about the praise, but it’s hard to handle in the cold daylight when you’re playing, ‘well, I’ve gotten a lot of praise, so I should be able to bear the criticism. ”

‘You’re just not put together that way. When someone criticizes you, you want to get them back and you want to show them every time.

“So I think that might help Virgil van Dijk in a way. Because it clearly got into his nose. And you know what, if that makes him the Virgil van Dijk we’ve praised again, then that’s fine with me.’

Klopp’s side, whose Napoli loss was their last game after the weekend’s Premier League games were canceled following the death of the Queen, opened the scoring via Mohamed Salah, with Mohammed Kudus equalizing for late Matip’s winner .