Virgil van Dijk has admitted Premier League defenders are going to struggle to deal with Manchester City’s new boy Erling Haaland.
The two went toe-to-toe in Saturday’s Community Shield, with Van Dijk ultimately winning the first battle as Liverpool claimed the annual gong with a 3-1 victory.
In a prelude to this weekend’s Premier League curtain-raiser, the reigning champions and the FA Cup holders produced a thrilling encounter under the arch.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez ultimately bagged the goals for Jurgen Klopp’s men to cancel out Julian Alvarez’s equaliser.
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Haaland looked threatening in spells but finished the match having fire a blank, though Van Dijk has warned that he saw enough in his game to guarantee that Premier League defenders are in for a torrid time this forthcoming campaign.
Van Dijk said: “He will make defenders’ lives in England horrible! He’s so direct. He has everything; he can head the ball, he’s quick. But we kept him at bay. He had one chance, well two chances, but other than that we did well together.
“The focus is always the same for every striker. He obviously has a lot of qualities that can make life difficult for defenders. I’m not going to give him too much advice!
“But obviously, he will know that he has to focus on his own game and not what others have to say. There is pressure on players who are coming in with a big price tag, but what can you do? You come in to perform, and the club pays a transfer fee for you. You just have to work, and in his case try to score as many goals as possible. That’s the same for Darwin Nunez in our case.”
The Dutchman has also suggested that Salah’s contract situation from last season affected his form, and now that the Egyptian superstar has penned fresh terms, he will explode back to life once the first whistle blows this weekend.
He added: “He’s under the microscope all the time. He obviously created that himself because he’s such a good player, but he shows that consistency all the time. Towards the end of the season, maybe April onwards, there were a lot of talks with the contract and stuff. We are all human beings and I think that affected him a little bit, unfortunately. But he still showed a high level of quality. Now everything is sorted, he’s playing with a free mind, he’s happy to be here and I think everyone else is happy too!”
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