By 90Min
June 20, 2018

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed that the decision to hand £75m centre-back Virgil van Dijk a debut in a Merseyside derby FA Cup clash with Everton in January, mere days after the Dutchman's arrival, was made as late as the morning of the game itself.

After the transfer from Southampton was made official on 1st January, Van Dijk had only officially been a Liverpool player for around 96 hours and Klopp could have been tempted to hold off to give his new defensive star more time to settle and get used to the team's system.

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Certainly, a bad start in a high pressure game of such magnitude, especially after the transfer saga that facilitated his arrival, could have been catastrophic for Van Dijk's Liverpool career.

Instead, he decided on a whim on the morning of the game to throw him in at the deep end.

"It was not a tough decision, it was only a spontaneous decision, Klopp explained on the Reds' end of season review DVD (LiverpoolFC.com).

"In the morning, I actually thought he will not play. But we had one session in the morning and I came out on the pitch and [said], 'Ah, come on, why not?'

"It's not that I didn't want him to play obviously, we bought him so we wanted him to play. But it was the first game, against Everton, if something goes the wrong direction it's not a cool start and we want a good start for him.

"But then I thought he's ready for it, so we did it and it was a genius decision! He scored [his] first goal, in front of the Kop, so that's not too bad."

Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Van Dijk's 84th minute header put Liverpool back into the lead after Gylfi Sigurdsson had cancelled out an earlier James Milner penalty and proved to be the winner.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)