Van Dijk comeback to boost Alexander-Arnold and Robertson’s FPL returns |

The ‘Sleeper’ series has made a return to the Fantasy Football Scout pages this summer.

In these articles, we assess the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) players who failed or didn’t have the chance to live up to former glories last season.

Having already considered Matt Doherty, we take a look at Virgil van Dijk’s (£6.5m) return to fitness, his own FPL appeal and how the Dutchman’s comeback might impact on Liverpool’s defensive prospects.

Van Dijk fitness latest

The key thing to note about van Dijk is that, at the time of writing, his availability for Gameweek 1 remains in question.

The Netherlands centre-back suffered a serious knee injury in Gameweek 5 of 2020/21 and returned to pre-season training in July of this year.

On van Dijk and fellow injury returnee Joe Gomez (£5.0m), Jurgen Klopp said recently:

Virg and Joe will not have double sessions now for the first few days with the team; they have a second session of the day but it’s with Andreas Schlumberger, with the rehab department, physiotherapy, these kinds of things. That’s for these two. [They] look really good. I don’t know exactly when we can make the next steps but it will happen in the next four weeks, for sure – we will get a big step forward.

Once fully fit, we can safely assume that van Dijk will be back at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.

Liverpool’s defence: with and without van Dijk

Liverpool defence still suspect but attacking returns continue to flow

The Dutchman joined Liverpool in January 2018, making his debut in Gameweek 24.

Before his arrival, the Reds had conceded 36 big chances in 23 Gameweeks. In the following 15 Gameweeks, Liverpool allowed just 18 of these high-quality chances.

In the subsequent season, van Dijk’s first full campaign at Anfield, Klopp’s outfit could boast the meanest defence in the league.

Liverpool defensive stats 2018/19 Total Rank v other PL teams
Goals conceded 22 1st
Clean sheets 21 1st
Shots conceded 307 2nd
Shots in the box conceded 192 2nd
Shots on target conceded 96 2nd
Big chances conceded 40 2nd
Expected goals conceded (xGC) 28.95 2nd

Van Dijk was also a real goal threat, scoring four times from inside the box, including three headers.

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