Virgil van Dijk has claimed that Mo Salah struggled towards the end of last season due to the uncertainty surrounding his Liverpool future.
The Egyptian King dedicated the next three years to the club earlier this summer after he signed a new deal that will keep him on Merseyside until the summer of 2025.
The former AS Roma man was at his scintillating best against Manchester City yesterday in the 3-1 Community Shield victory.
“At the end of the season, from maybe April until the end, there was a lot of talk about (his) contract and stuff. We’re all human beings and maybe that affected him a little bit, unfortunately,” van Dijk told the Telegraph.
“But he still showed high levels and quality and he played with a free mind and obviously he’s happy to be here and I think everyone is happy to be here.
“He showed it already for the last three years. He’s under the microscope all of the time. He created that himself, he’s such a good player, but he shows that consistently all the time in my opinion.”
Pep Guardiola decided to start Erling Haaland in yesterday’s clash at the King Power, but van Dijk performed to his usual high standards to ensure the Norwegian was kept quiet all evening.
But despite the former Borussia Dortmund man not making the impression that those in Sky Blue would’ve hoped for, our No. 4 admitted that he and Joel Matip performed ‘well together’ but is expecting Haaland to cause defenders trouble this season.
“He will make defenders’ lives in England horrible,” said Van Dijk. “He is so direct. He has everything, he can head the ball, he is quick and we kept him at bay. He had one chance, maybe two chances, but other than that we did well together.
“I’m not going to give him too much advice but I think he will know he has to focus on his own game and not worry about what others have to say. There’s pressure with others coming in for a big price tag. What can you do about that? You come into a club to perform, the club pays a big transfer fee, you can’t control that.
“You have to keep your head down and in this case score as many, many goals for City as possible. That’s the same for Darwin (Nunez) in our case and hopefully we can see in our case Darwin scoring more.”
Darwin Nunez made a great impression down at the other end, however.
The Uruguay international only entered the fray on the hour mark but he helped earn the Reds a penalty that was emphatically dispatched by Salah to restore our lead.
He then got himself on the scoresheet with a well taken header in injury time and sparked wild scenes amongst the Red half of the ground.
We looked sharp all over the pitch yesterday and we can’t wait for next Saturday’s Premier League opener with Fulham.