Liverpool’s Dutch defensive stalwart shed light on discussions with the former Arsenal boss over FIFA’s proposals to host a World Cup tournament every two years
Virgil Van Dijk has met with Arsene Wenger to warn the Frenchman that playing a World Cup every two years will be a risk too far.
Wenger is at the forefront of a FIFA initiative to revolutionise football’s biggest international tournament.
But Van Dijk has revealed that he led a delegation of Liverpool players to tell the former Arsenal boss that his idea will put the world’s top players in danger.
Van Dijk, 30, is loving life again after spending most of last season recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.
But he said: “We should not complain, but the matches are piling up.
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“Playing matches is the greatest thing for any footballer. But the right choices must be made and people should look at the health and safety of the players.
“That is what we speak about. In England, we talk about this with the PFA, but a couple of weeks ago I was specifically asked to talk with Mr Wenger and players of our team about this idea of having a World Cup every two years.
“I appreciate that these discussions take place with us. But if we, as senior players at Liverpool and other big clubs in England, give our opinion, then I think it is time they must start to listen.”
Wenger asked for a meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s (below) squad in a bid to gauge the reaction of staging a World Cup every other summer.
FIFA have been stunned by the widespread outrage their plan has sparked.
Van Dijk’s return to action has seen Liverpool once again challenging at the top of the Premier League and surging into the last 16 of the Champions League.
Holland are also on the brink of qualifying for the World Cup.
Van Dijk added: “I think I can be very satisfied with how I have come back from such a complicated knee injury.
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“But my injury was the result of a kick. It was not one of those moments where nobody was around and your knee goes. When I think about it, that made it easier to go full steam ahead again.
“Of course, there is a niggling thought in the back of my mind now and again, but it is certainly not something that bothers me every day.
“I am never afraid to get fully stuck in when it comes to a 50-50 ball.”
Van Dijk played against minnows Gibraltar last month, but he is just one yellow card away from suspension and Holland boss Louis van Gaal has given him the option of missing a game to avoid a ban.
But Van Dijk said: “I had good experiences in football before, but after such a long injury and absence I have definitely enjoyed playing again.
“I want to play my matches and I don’t see the point of changing my routine.
“If you look at my stats and the way I defend, then you know I try to avoid situations where I could be picking up yellow cards.
“It does not always work, but I go into every game again thinking, ‘I don’t need to get booked’. No yellow, just three points.” He added: “The Dutch team is really special for me. I am captain, we have almost qualified and I look forward to the build up towards the World Cup.
“Of course, there are moments where I can still do better myself or the team can do better.
“But I still feel privileged that I get picked every time among the 24 four best players of my country. I must make sure I enjoy that.”