Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has insisted he would give up 10 per cent of his salary over playing fewer games. Van Dijk has been a vocal critic of the expanding football calendar and is set for even more games this season with the Reds and Holland.
Players have long been speaking out about their fears that more games will lead to more serious injuries. Several Premier League stars are already facing long-term absences this season and blame has been placed on a growing fixture list.
Data produced by the FIFPRO players’ union last month showed that players at the top clubs can play up to 70 matches per season. International windows in addition to their club teams reaching the latter stages of competitions mean stars are playing in a growing number of games.
Van Dijk was asked while on international duty if he would rather give up 10 per cent of his salary or play in fewer matches if his health depended on one or the other. The Liverpool captain appeared irked by the question and suggested that players should not have to pick between the two scenarios.
“It’s becoming more and more [matches]. Hence the discussion. I think we as players have to say something about it and find a solution,” Van Dijk said.
“We have to be on the field. Health is slightly more important than the money it generates. Hopefully there will be a solution for that.
“For my health, I would give up ten per-cent of my salary. As a collective we have to work on this. As players, or as captains. We are talking about this with the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association), we have to find a solution.
“Because fewer matches should not depend on my salary. You are now trying to get me to say something nice, but I don’t think it should depend on my salary whether we play fewer matches.”
Van Dijk played 55 times for club and country last season, including helping the Netherlands reach the World Cup quarter-finals. As a key player in both teams, the centre-back is expected to play in as many matches as possible.
FIFPRO insists that no player should play more than 55 games in a single season. Van Dijk has already played seven times this term and will likely go to Euro 2024 if the Netherlands qualify, with the Oranje second in their qualifying group.