Jurgen Klopp has revealed that Virgil van Dijk was handed the responsibility of being Liverpool captain in waiting following a vote among the squad.
The Dutch defender was instated as the Reds' captain for the club's Champions League win over Red Star Belgrade in midweek, with Jordan Henderson injured and James Milner still recovering from a lingering hamstring complaint.
Although Klopp has previously turned to the longest serving player to lead his side in the absence of his designated captain and vice-captain, the Liverpool boss explained this time round he put the decision at the feet of his players.
Van Dijk won the vote with his national compatriot Georginio Wijnaldum coming second and on the result Klopp said, via the Mirror: “It probably says a lot about Virgil (he was captain), but it was not my decision.
“I decided Henderson and Milner will stay as captain and vice-captain - that is the 100% logical thing to do and it would have been as well like that if we had voted.
“And then I said the next two, the players can vote, and now the two Dutch guys are in the row. The team decided number three for Virgil and number four for Gini Wijnaldum.
Virgil Van Dijk effectively third in line for the captain’s armband with Gini fourth, as voted for by the players. Says a lot about the influence of the two on the pitch.— Leanne Prescott (@_lfcleanne) October 26, 2018
“If somebody had told me that that would happen in my life as a German, the two Dutch guys would have such an important role...! It’s a player’s decision.”
The Liverpool centre back could lead his side out for the second consecutive game as Henderson will be absent for the Cardiff clash, while Milner may be overlooked despite his return to fitness.
It is not a concern for Klopp, however, as the German says Van Dijk can thrive on with the extra responsibility, as he added: "Virgil is still young, he looks more of a man than he really is. There is nothing wrong with that and he can still improve.
"If you see and hear him you think there is big distance between him and you because he looks impressive. It is good for him to have this responsibility and there will be a day for sure when Gini will wear the armband. He will be very proud of that as well.
"These two guys do a similar thing in Holland for the national team. It is a natural thing. The boys saw it as well and that is why they have this committee.”