Virgil van Dijk denies claim key player’s exit is behind sluggish Liverpool start to season

Ben Stewart
Luis Diaz, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk has recently come out and denied the claim that the sale of Sadio Mane is behind Liverpool’s slow start to the season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side currently find themselves in the bottom half of the Premier League table. They are already 14 points behind league leaders Arsenal.

The Reds have scored 20 goals in their opening eight matches of the season, at a rate of 2.5 goals per game. However, the numbers are inflated thanks to their 9-0 hammering of Bournemouth.

Plenty of their problems have come from shipping too many goals. Klopp’s side have already conceded 12 goals in the league and six in Europe.

If they continue to average 1.25 points per game, they will finish the season with a measly 47 points. For context, that would have seen them finish in 13th place last season.

Clearly, there is plenty of work to be done at Liverpool this season to get them back on track.

Van Dijk doesn’t blame Mane exit

In a recent interview, Liverpool defender Van Dijk opened up on the Reds’ season so far and where things have gone wrong.

When asked about Mane’s exit he told Sky Sports: “That’s funny, but I don’t think it’s that personally. Obviously Sadio was a massive player for us, but he wanted to leave, it’s not that we wanted to let him go.

“We have players that have come in. Luis Diaz, outstanding. Darwin is getting to know how we really want to defend from the front and the importance of when we have the ball and when we don’t have the ball.

“It takes a bit of time in this case, but I don’t think that’s the exact reason why we are not performing.”

Mane spent six seasons with Liverpool and was a fan favourite at Anfield.

The Senegal international scored a total of 120 goals for Liverpool and delivered in plenty of big moments.

Liverpool signed him from Southampton in the summer of 2016 and he became Klopp’s first marquee signing.

While Van Dijk doesn’t think Liverpool’s problems have come from Mane’s departure, he does accept they have been off the pace so far.

He added: “Difficult start. It’s difficult to find a direct reason for it. It could be multiple things, but I have no idea exactly why, and there is no point for us to think about why those games didn’t go as well as we wanted.

“We want to improve it now, and in order to do that we have to work each and every day in training, and fight for each yard in the games, and try to win them.

“That’s what we try to do, and I feel and I still think that we are going to be there, because we have the quality of players. We’ll keep working, we’ll keep improving, and hopefully we can turn it around.”

Liverpool need to get back to basics 

Klopp has struggled to find consistency this season, given how many injuries they have had.

The likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah have also struggled to find their form during this campaign.

Liverpool fans will be hopeful that Salah’s hat-trick against Rangers will signal a return to form for him.

The Egyptian forward has only scored two league goals across Liverpool’s opening eight fixtures.

Roberto Firmino has proven to be their main source of goals this season and has scored six league goals so far.

If Liverpool are to get back to their best, they will need their top performers to return to form sooner rather than later.

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