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Virgil Van Dijk warning to title rivals as Liverpool get off to convincing start

Virgil Van Dijk warning to title rivals as Liverpool get off to convincing start
The Dutch defender had no nerves ahead of his first start in the Premier League since October.

Virgil Van Dijk has warned Liverpool’s title rivals he is hungry for more success after making his first competitive start in 10 months in their 3-0 win over Norwich on Saturday.

The talismanic Holland defender missed the majority of last season and Euro 2020 after he sustained anterior cruciate ligament damage to his right knee in October.

It contributed towards a difficult campaign for Jurgen Klopp’s side but they finished strongly to secure Champions League football and picked up where they left off on the opening weekend with goals from Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah earning a comfortable away victory.

“I wasn’t nervous, I was excited, I wanted to be out there. I wanted to get the game going,” Van Dijk told the official club website.

“Very happy obviously to start the game, to get the three points, win 3-0 away, a clean sheet. Obviously you can’t ask for more.

“There are still many things to improve but we are early in the season. I’m still getting up to speed so these are the only moments where you can really improve as well.”

In comparison to their title rivals, Liverpool have had a quiet summer on the transfer front with RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate the only addition to Klopp’s squad for a fee of £36million.

Elsewhere, Manchester City have spent £100million on Jack Grealish, Chelsea just shy of that on Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United needed £75million to bring in Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

But with Anfield set to be sold-out again this season, starting with the visit of Burnley on Saturday, plus Salah, Jota, Firmino and Sadio Mane already looking in the mood at Norwich, the signs are positive for the 2020 champions.

Van Dijk added: “This year is going to be exciting for many reasons, personally but as a team as well. If you look at the teams around us improving, who want to compete for the Premier League title; obviously we want to be up there as well.

“It’s going to be a Premier League full of high quality which we all should enjoy. We have a fantastic squad – just go for it and take each game as it comes.

“Seeing the fans back is a big boost, but also just playing the games, the Premier League, the best league in the world. You want to be out there, you want to perform, you want to compete, you want to win.

“To be able to do that with fans again as a team, hopefully we stay fit all of us, that’s something to be excited about. We’ll give it a proper go and take it game by game.”

It was a case of deja vu for Norwich on their Premier League return having lost 4-1 to Liverpool on the opening day of the 2019-20 campaign.

If you look at the teams around us improving, who want to compete for the Premier League title; obviously we want to be up there as well.

Virgil Van Dijk

A disrupted pre-season with an outbreak of Covid-19 cases did not help the cause of the Sky Bet Championship winners but their captain Grant Hanley saw plenty to be positive about during the 3-0 defeat.

It does not get any easier for the Canaries though, with a trip to title holders Manchester City next on the horizon.

He said: “We have got to have belief and we have got that in the dressing room.

“The new lads that have come in have shown their quality and you could see that they add something to our group. There is definitely some positives to take but we have to look to improve.

“It is always the same in football, you have to learn the lessons quickly and keep moving forward. That is what we will do this week because we have got a big test coming up.”