herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Van Dijk: We'll end the season on a high in Madrid

Liverpool defender eyes Euro win to soften Premier League blow

GUTTED: Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk. Photo: Getty
GUTTED: Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk. Photo: Getty

A frustrated Virgil Van Dijk is looking to finish the season on a high with a Champions League triumph after being pipped to the title by Manchester City.

The Liverpool centre-back, who would have swapped his Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year award for a championship medal in a heartbeat, was encouraged by how close they pushed Pep Guardiola's side domestically.

And while he is confident they can challenge again next season thoughts have turned to making up for last year's heartbreak in Kiev when they meet Tottenham in Madrid on June 1.

"Congratulations to City, they deserved it by one point and it was a great title race. I've enjoyed every bit of it," said the Holland captain.

"It doesn't mean it is all over. We take a lot of things with us, we will take this on, and hopefully we can challenge next year and do even better.

Manchester City's Vincent Kompany and manager Pep Guardiola on stage with the trophy during the celebrations at the Etihad Stadium after securing the Premier League title. Photo: PA
Manchester City's Vincent Kompany and manager Pep Guardiola on stage with the trophy during the celebrations at the Etihad Stadium after securing the Premier League title. Photo: PA

High

"But we have to look on the positive side and remember we are still in Madrid, hopefully we can end the season on a high. That's what we are going to try and do.

"It is fantastic to be in the Champions League final twice in a row, hopefully we can do a little bit better this time."

Liverpool's points tally of 97 would have won the title in 117 of the 120 previous seasons - based on points per game and assuming three points for a win in all previous campaigns.

They lost only one match - crucially at City in January - but it was not quite good enough as City pipped them by a point to become the first side in a decade to successfully defend the Premier League.

"Frustrated is the right word, I think we are all going to be a little disappointed because we are so close," added the Dutchman.

Proud

"To get 97 points, to play football like we have played all season, we have to be very proud. I don't care about another opinion.

"We work so hard every day to be challenging to be as close as possible, but City were just a tiny little bit better than us, and that's football as well."

Van Dijk's influence on Liverpool's season was huge, helping the side to 21 clean sheets which saw goalkeeper Alisson Becker collect the Golden Glove award.

That form earned him the individual PFA award but he admits he would rather have another trophy to celebrate.

"It's a big honour, a huge honour, but I would swap it immediately for the Premier League title," he said.

"To get recognition for what I have done this season is always good, especially as defender, but it is all down to everyone around me, and without everyone else who has been working with me, playing with me it wouldn't be possible."

Meanwhile, defender Andy Robertson believes the "tight-knit" nature of the Liverpool squad will keep them together for years to come as they seek to overcome City.

The Scotland captain warned the back-to-back champions the Reds are "here to stay" when it comes to contesting domestic honours, and believes the group Jurgen Klopp has assembled can remain united as they attempt to do that.

"We are a tight-knit group, a young group, so hopefully we will be here for many years and we will be a better team in terms of maturity and experience next year," said the left-back.

"Whether we can put in the performances remains to be seen but we hope we can.

"It is an incredible squad and I love being a part of it. I am sure we have learned a lot of lessons this season, and we just need to take that into next.

"Fingers-crossed we don't lose anyone. We are a tight group and we don't want to lose anyone. We will go into next season as strong as ever."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News