Liverpool need Champions League to sign 'quality imports', says Van Dijk

By Sports Desk March 16, 2023

Virgil van Dijk highlighted the importance of Champions League football for Liverpool in their bid to improve the squad for next season.

Jurgen Klopp's side suffered elimination from Europe's elite competition with a resounding 6-2 aggregate defeat against Real Madrid in the last 16.

Sitting six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the Premier League with a game in hand over the north London side, Liverpool face a fight to secure their spot in next season's competition.

Significant departures may also be on the cards, with Roberto Firmino already announcing he will leave upon the expiration of his contract, and Van Dijk understands being able to offer Champions League football may be crucial in the hunt for new additions.

"Obviously, players are going to leave. That's been announced, so, if we want to be where we have been the last five years, we need quality imports, especially with those players leaving," he told reporters.

"Everyone knows that's going to be very difficult. It is going to be very difficult to find the right players, but the club has to do their job in this case.

"We still have a lot of games to play and we want to be in the Champions League. I think that will also help to attract the best players in the world. Not all the time but it will definitely help."

Due to Fulham's involvement in the FA Cup quarter-finals, Liverpool are not in Premier League action this weekend and have plenty of time to prepare for a crucial run of fixtures.

Following the upcoming international break, Liverpool face back-to-back away matches against Manchester City and Chelsea before welcoming league leaders Arsenal to Anfield in a stretch that could define their season.

"It's going to be very defining and that's something we all know," Van Dijk added.

"It's been a season where we can't find the consistency that we have had for the last few years, but we need to get it back.

"It sounds very simple but it's the most difficult part of football. The most difficult part of being a footballer is to stay consistent in each and every game.

"We will give it absolutely everything because I want to play in the Champions League, we all want to play in the Champions League. The fans want to play in the Champions League.

"We are the players on the pitch, we have to perform, and we have to show it, but we need also our fans. They have stuck with us in the good times, and we need them probably even more in this time. We will fight."

Related items

  • Caoimhin Kelleher happy for a quiet life as Liverpool and Chelsea meet again Caoimhin Kelleher happy for a quiet life as Liverpool and Chelsea meet again

    Liverpool’s 2022 Carabao Cup final hero Caoimhin Kelleher will be more than happy to stay out of the limelight at Wembley.

    The Republic of Ireland international scored what turned out to be the winning spot-kick after a goalless final against Sunday’s opponents Chelsea in an epic shoot-out which finished 11-10 when Kelleher’s opposite number Kepa Arrizabalaga blazed over, the only failure from either side.

    It was fitting for the Irishman, who has been Liverpool’s League Cup goalkeeper for the last few seasons, but he would prefer a quieter afternoon this time around.

    “To be fair, I was just in the moment. I didn’t even realise it was my go and I looked at the lads and they were pointing at me,” said Kelleher.

    “I didn’t have much to think so I just ended up smashing it in.”

    Asked whether he had practised his penalties again he added: “I’ve done bits and bobs but I’m hoping we win it in the 90 minutes. I think it’s easier for the fans.

    “I have great memories from the cup. I think the clear thing will be the penalty, that is a really nice moment.

    “Then after Chelsea missed their penalty, our celebration with the fans and the team was a special moment and one I’ll never forget and hopefully we can recreate something similar on Sunday.

    “It was a good experience to look back on but I’m just trying to focus on getting good results.”

    Kelleher is set for his longest run in the team as first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who has already missed the last three matches with a hamstring injury, is sidelined until after next month’s international break.

    As back-up the 25-year-old has never played more than three consecutive games for the club but, after a similar run in November and December when Alisson was injured, he now has a chance to play a big part in the quest for silverware as the club continue to fight on four fronts.

    “It can only help having a run of games as it gets you in a good rhythm and it fills me with confidence playing week in, week out,” he added.

    “It’s good for me as I can get that rhythm and that relationship with the team. It can only help.”

    Alisson is one of a significant number of absences, which includes Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones, with Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai facing late fitness tests.

    Liverpool’s midweek win over Luton showed how much their resources were stretched, with three defenders and five academy players on the bench, but assistant manager Pep Lijnders said there would be no excuses made.

    “I think the good thing we always did in the past is look at what we have,” he said.

    “It’s also good in life to just accept what you have and don’t look (at) what you don’t have, so that’s what we are trying to do.

    “It brought us success in the past, so we try to keep that up.

    “This season is a season where we created already three or four new teams in one season – that didn’t happen a lot in the last years.

    “It’s a compliment for our squad, it’s a compliment for the academy.”

  • Cup final officials must be ‘fair’ amid Jurgen Klopp hype – Mauricio Pochettino Cup final officials must be ‘fair’ amid Jurgen Klopp hype – Mauricio Pochettino

    Mauricio Pochettino has urged the match officials not to be swayed by the focus on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool farewell in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.

    Klopp will leave Anfield in the summer after almost nine years in charge and Sunday marks this season’s first chance to add to his seven trophies with the club.

    Pochettino insisted his side “want to win because of Chelsea,” rather than being motivated by a desire to spoil Klopp’s farewell.

    But he admitted he was unhappy with refereeing decisions in the recent league meeting between the teams, feeling his side should have had penalties for Virgil van Dijk’s challenges on Conor Gallagher in the first half and Christopher Nkunku in the second.

    In quotes reported by several national newspapers regarding pressure on the outgoing Reds boss, the Argentinian added: “It is not pressure for him. Maybe it is for the people who want to celebrate with Liverpool.

    “We need to be sure we are going to compete and be fair in every decision. At Anfield, I think too many decisions… not one key decision was for us.

    “Two penalties were not given. Duels, 50-50s, always for another colour. Always red. I want to be treated in a fair way.

    “The first decision after five minutes was a clear penalty. In the second half it was a penalty. The pressure is about not delivering the job for Klopp, the pressure is not to be part of the (hype).

    “Of course, we are going to celebrate (Klopp’s reign). I am the first who is going to say that Liverpool is amazing and Klopp is one of the best coaches in the world.

    “But I think after my last experience, what I want in Wembley is to not feel the pressure. It is to play a game at the same level and the best team will win. But not to feel the pressure of people around.”

  • Mikel Arteta ready to pinch and probe as Arsenal seek to master dark arts Mikel Arteta ready to pinch and probe as Arsenal seek to master dark arts

    Mikel Arteta wants his players to improve their use of the dark arts and believes it is not in Arsenal’s “DNA” to be nasty on the pitch.

    The Gunners boss wants his players to harness the ability to be more streetwise in approaching clever opponents and is training his Premier League title challengers to improve.

    Declan Rice admitted after a 1-0 defeat in Porto on Wednesday night that Arsenal need to be more “savvy” as a last-gasp goal saw them beaten in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.

    Porto did a great job of slowing the game down at the Estadio do Dragao, with 36 fouls committed by both teams combined – a Champions League record this season.

    Newcastle could prove a similarly tough nut to crack for Arteta’s side at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday night – but Arteta will be hoping his techniques work their magic.

    “There are ways to do it,” Arteta replied when asked how a manager develops dark arts in his squad.

    “It is the way you talk to them, showing them clips, training – putting them through scenarios, pinching them a few times as well.

    “Learning from other players who do it really well and from teams who are masters at it. There are ways to do it.

    “It’s very important. That’s a way of competing for a team, you know. And you can tell that the best players in the world have the ability to take advantage – always.”

    Arteta conceded such an approach has been missing from Arsenal and that it is something that is considered in recruiting new players.

    “Overall when you build a squad you need that certainly – but it comes,” he added.

    “Sometimes it comes from the culture of the club. You see that there are clubs that they have that in their DNA.

    “It is not something that you would directly link with Arsenal, that’s for sure but it is something that has to be developed.

    “We have many other things and a lot of other clubs don’t have what we do. You want to have the best of the best – that’s the aim.

    “You have to control your emotions, that’s for sure, if not you get dragged into a game that will take you away from what we want – but certainly I have seen my team face very difficult opponents, very difficult situations, face to face and we are not going to get away from that.”

    Pushed on if his players were nasty enough, the Spaniard added: “Nasty? I don’t know. They are incredible players, that is for sure.

    “I think this team has got enough intelligence and enough experience to deal with many situations.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.