One of Arne Slot's biggest contract worries for Liverpool might now be over

Arne Slot smiles during his first Liverpool interview.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

When Arne Slot finally felt it appropriate to reach out to his new squad as head coach of Liverpool, it was little surprise that Virgil van Dijk was the first one he called.

As club captain and skipper of Slot's homeland of the Netherlands, Van Dijk was the obvious candidate for the new man to reach out to when sufficient time has passed to mark Jurgen Klopp's exit with suitable deference and respect.

Speaking in his first interview as the new head coach at Anfield, which was released on Thursday, Slot indicated that he had indeed already spoken to Van Dijk, saying: "I've reached out to a few of them – all of them after Jurgen left, because I thought that was really important to be fair to Jurgen and be fair to the players, because they had to end the season and I don't think I would be really happy if my successor would have called players before I left the club.

READ MORE: John Henry has already sent Liverpool transfer message with direct warning to rivals

READ MORE: Arne Slot already has five Liverpool dilemmas to solve as Euro 2024 problems emerge

"Then I think it's normal to start with the captain, which is Virgil, which is an easy one for me because we could speak Dutch. And from there on I called a few others, but not many of them because most of them are in preparation, or at this moment playing, at the Euros, and some others are in preparation at the Copa America.

"So I think the best way is to keep a certain distance but also be interested in them as well. And hoping that most of them – especially the Dutch! – will still be as long as possible away so they will reach the final. Then afterwards I will get to meet them and I think that's a better way of getting to know each other than by phone or Zoom meetings."

Given the contract status of the Liverpool captain - and subsequent reports linking him with a move to the Saudi Pro League - it's inconceivable that the conversation between Slot and Van Dijk did not, at some stage, touch upon the long-term future of the centre-back. In that regard, the coach will at least have been provided more clarity from his skipper's perspective.

Speaking last month, Van Dijk confirmed there was no contract offer as things stood but hinted that he would be around to help usher in the Slot era at Anfield, saying: "I think there is nothing for me to discuss because there is no news, I think the club is very much busy with who is going to be the new manager and that is the main focus.

"Like I said I am very happy here, I love the club and you can see that as well. It's a big part of my life already, and that is all I can say. The focus is now on the last two and then the club will focus on who the new manager is and there will be a big transition and I am part of that."

On the same theme after the final day of the campaign on May 19, Van Dijk added: "At the moment there is nothing for me to say. Nothing has changed and nothing is on the table either. No changes in my situation at all.

“Massive change. Not only the manager but there are multiple departments within the club that have a lot of staff members leaving and we are at the stage we have to trust the club in this project and this route they are taking and we will see in pre-season how things will look.

"Change is sometimes a little bit scary as you are in the unknown but the only thing you can do is trust the club and we will find out how it looks when we come back and report for pre-season."

Reports out of the Middle East earlier this month that Al-Nassr are lining up a play to bring in the Oranje talisman to the Saudi Pro League intrigued, but Liverpool have since insisted they have not been approached about a man who only inherited the captain's armband 11 months ago.

The defender's public statements about his own situation at Anfield have always been delivered with air of calm, whenever given after Liverpool's games - where he regularly makes time to speak to the media - and the relaxed nature of the updates hint that Van Dijk himself is not unduly concerned if he does intend to stay at the club he, by own admission, now loves.

The insistence that no official offer means there is little to discuss regarding his future is a logical stance and points towards his own humility and modesty, but there is surely little to weigh up from the club's side of things if their captain is willing to remain in place beyond the current terms that expire in the summer of 2025.

The emergence of Jarell Quansah and the interest in 18-year-old Leny Yoro is proof that Liverpool have taken a long-term view to their centre-back situation following the departure of Joel Matip at the end of his contract but Van Dijk has few peers, even as he approaches his 33rd birthday, on July 8.

And the fact Slot has already conversed with his new skipper would suggest the Liverpool boss already has his answer regarding Van Dijk's own plans.