Virgil van Dijk ‘excited’ for next season and insists Liverpool still attractive without Champions League

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Virgil van Dijk is confident that missing out on Champions League qualification will not hamper Liverpool’s summer recruitment plans.

Jurgen Klopp’s side look destined to play in the Europa League next season following Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 stalemate with Aston Villa.

However, the Dutch defender does not believe that will reduce the appeal of moving to Anfield for prospective signings.

“If I’m a player on the rise and I have options to go to the next step and Liverpool is knocking on my door, then I would be very, very interested,” Van Dijk said.

“I don’t think it’s going to change much but, if someone wants to play Champions League no matter what, then that’s their ambition.

“Pre-season will be massive for us. Everybody knows we’ve been going through a little bit of a transition.

“I’m very excited for next season. Obviously there’s still a lot to work on but the good thing in this case is that we have the whole pre-season to do that.

“The noises I’m hearing, it’s going to be a very intense pre-season with a lot of physical work but also a lot of tactical work. That’s very exciting. Players are leaving, hopefully players are coming in and we’ll be ready for the start.”

It was an emotional afternoon at Anfield as Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said their goodbyes.

However, Van Dijk dismissed suggestions that contributed to an underwhelming team performance as Liverpool’s winning run was halted.

Roberto Firmino enjoyed a goal-scoring Anfield farewell. Photo: Getty Images

Firmino enjoyed the perfect farewell as his late equaliser cancelled out Jacob Ramsey’s opener.

“Not only Bobby, I’ll miss each and every one of them,” Van Dijk said.

“They’ve all played their part, they have been successful, contributing in their own way, not just Bobby. Bobby has been a very big part of the goals and the assists, together with Sadio (Mane) and Mo (Salah), and that creates the headlines. But all the other stuff that the other three have been doing as well shouldn’t go unnoticed and that’s why they’re very respected within the group and also by Liverpool fans.

“I don’t think the emotions of the day played a part, at least not for me. It was just a frustrating afternoon. Obviously, the chances to reach Champions League football were quite slim anyway but now it’s even more difficult. Villa have had a good season since (Unai) Emery came in so we knew it was going to be tough.”

Van Dijk was bemused by referee John Brooks’ decision to rule he was offside and disallow Cody Gakpo’s goal when Villa were 1-0 up. Brooks was sent to the monitor by VAR and decided that the ball had deflected off Ezri Konsa, rather than the Villa defender making a deliberate attempt to play the ball in the build-up.

“I didn’t understand what was going on,” he said. “I asked Michael Oliver (the fourth official) on the side and apparently it was a question of if the Villa player deliberately played it. I have no idea.

“I think it would be good if next season we can hear what they discuss, everyone around it, and be transparent. For them to explain with you guys (the media) as well. That’s what happens in Holland, why not over here?”


Race for the Champions League: How Liverpool’s Firmino made Manchester United wait

(Photo: Getty Images)

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