Van Dijk understands ‘doubts’ over Liverpool summer recruitment

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk said he understands people’s concerns over the Premier League club’s lack of transfer business ahead of the new season and urged his teammates to step up following the departure of several key players.

Van Dijk, 32, replaced Jordan Henderson as captain after the England midfielder ended a 12-year-stay at Liverpool to join Saudi Pro League club Al Ettifaq last month.

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Liverpool have lost as many as six senior players, with Henderson and Fabinho moving to Saudi Arabian sides, while fellow midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, Naby Keita and forward Roberto Firmino leaving on free transfers.

With three days to go before the start of the new season, the number of arrivals at Anfield has not kept pace with exits, with midfielders Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai being the only two players Liverpool have signed in the close season.

“I can definitely understand it in some ways but I’m not a very negative person,” Van Dijk said when asked about Liverpool fans’ worries.

“Obviously, when a lot of players are leaving, when your captain is leaving, your vice-captain is leaving, and at the moment, there are only two incomings. And the way we have been playing, in possession really good but defensively when you concede goals it’s not as good, I can understand some people having doubts.”

After narrowly missing out on an unprecedented quadruple in the 2021-22 season — Liverpool ended with two domestic cups — the club will not feature in the Champions League for the first time since manager Jurgen Klopp’s first full season in 2016-17.

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“Let’s see if more players are coming in and then we have to be ready again for a long season. It will be very tough if we look at the teams around us, but we want to be up there again, we want to be challenging again,” Van Dijk said.

“We have to be confident, we should be confident, and we should still be learning each and every day.

“There have been characters leaving, players who have played a big part in the success, but others have to step up. That’s a nice challenge in my opinion. We should be excited.”

Liverpool will kick-off their campaign with a trip to Chelsea on Sunday.


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