One down and three to go. Liverpool got past the first step to securing the perfect quadruple send-off for Jürgen Klopp on Sunday, and it was the Reds skipper who got them over the final hurdle in extra time.

Virgil van Dijk, who had a goal questionably disallowed in the second half following a block from Wataru Endō, guided his header from a Kostas Tsimikas corner perfectly past Đorđe Petrović, allowing Liverpool to hold out for the final three minutes of extra time.

And given the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are no longer in contention for the Ballon d’Or, the Dutch international will have a very real chance of winning it should Liverpool continue its trophy haul.

Pochettino responds to Neville’s ‘blue billion-pound bottlejobs’ jibe

A tweet from the official Liverpool account on X summed up the feeling of Liverpool fans towards some questionable shouts last season. “Narrator: He was not finished,” they tweeted above a picture of Virgil van Dijk holding the Carabao Cup trophy.

Coming back off from a lengthy spell on the sideline through injury, much of the criticism leveled at Van Dijk last season was impatient. Particularly on social media, where there is a tendency to exaggerate situations, many hadn’t considered that it would take time for him to get back to his best.

And that’s what he has done this season. Virgil van Dijk’s aura is back, with the players around him thriving. It was his goal in the Premier League victory over Luton Town that began the Reds’ comeback, and there is a feeling that his effort to win the Carabao Cup won’t be his last of the season.

As far as the Ballon d’Or goes, Van Dijk’s name should already be near the top of the list. The upcoming European Championship this summer will give him a chance to cement it should he guide the Netherlands to success, but it will be hard to look past him if Liverpool end this season with a quadruple.