Sadio Mane’s double booked Liverpool’s place in the Champions League quarter-finals, but Virgil van Dijk was the story for Jurgen Klopp.
Van Dijk’s headline moment came when he headed Liverpool into a 2-1 lead at Bayern Munich in the second leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday night, putting Klopp’s side in control before Mane’s second sealed a comprehensive victory.
But there was also a vital assist, Van Dijk’s raking, long-range pass setting up the chance from which Mane scored his stunning opener.
“You could write a book about his skills, his strengths, how much I like him, what a fantastic person he is,” Klopp said after the game.
“He’s so young, already so mature, so strong, all good.”
The £75m defender had Liverpool’s hierarchy playing with superlatives. Co-owner John W. Henry tweeted “75 per cent of the earth is covered by water, the rest by Van Dijk”.
Klopp’s storybook hero was not completely without flaws, though.
“He was involved in Bayern’s goal as well, so what a night,” the Reds boss joked.
Liverpool will find out their quarter-final opponents on Friday, and the story is not finished yet.
“Virgil knows he can play better than he did,” said Klopp. “We can play better.”