Virgil van Dijk comments on heavy Dries Mertens tackle during Liverpool vs Napoli


Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has big ambitions this season after his dream of Champions League success was kept alive with a win over Napoli.

A 1-0 victory over the Italian outfit, achieved thanks to equal instances of brilliance from goalscorer Mohamed Salah and goalkeeper Alisson Becker, ensured progress to the Champions League knockout stage in a must-win encounter at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are also top of the Premier League after the best start to the season in their history, and Van Dijk admits it is a great time to be at the club and genuinely challenging on two fronts.

“It’s something that we all want, it’s something that we are going to give everything for,” he said.

“We want to play on the highest level and the Champions League, other than the Premier League for us, is the highest level.

“We want to reach the maximum and hopefully do better than we did last year in the Champions League. You need to have dreams, you need to go for it, otherwise why would you be a footballer?

“It’s a great time to be a Liverpool fan or player. It’s tough but enjoy it and embrace it – these are the days you want to experience as a footballer and we are.”

Although there was a serious feel-good factor around Anfield last night, there was a moment of controversy for the Reds and for Van Dijk in particular.

His rather heavy looking tackle on Napoli forward Dries Mertens has attracted a lot of attention from football fans, and also opposing manager Carlo Ancelotti.


The Italian believes the centre-back would have seen red if VAR was in use, and after the game, Van Dijk himself spoke about the challenge in question.

Van Dijk said: "I don’t think it was a bad challenge at all.

"Unfortunately I touched him, but I would never go in to hurt him or anything like that.

"I had the ball and obviously [with] the wet pitch you slide through and I touched him, but that’s football.


"Unfortunately I’m suspended now for the first game. I heard it after the game so I was a bit disappointed about that.

"But we have plenty of quality players to fill my gap."

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