‘Something special’: Van Dijk hails Liverpool record-breaker Salah | Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk believes it is impossible to overstate Mo Salah’s importance to Liverpool and has emphasised how special the Egypt striker’s record-breaking contribution was during Sunday’s demolition of Manchester United.
Liverpool moved to within three points of the Premier League’s top four by thrashing United 7-0, with Salah, Cody Gakpo and Darwin Núñez scoring two goals apiece before Roberto Firmino added the seventh.
In the process Salah became Liverpool’s leading Premier League goalscorer, leapfrogging Robbie Fowler as he registered his 128th and 129th league goals. “Mo showed why he is so important for this club,” said Van Dijk. “He’s been very influential with everything positive over the last couple of years and hopefully he can keep that going.
“For him to be the all-time Premier League top scorer for Liverpool is something no one should take for granted. He definitely shouldn’t and I won’t. He should not just brush it off because it’s something special.”
The Netherlands defender had similarly warm words for Gakpo and Núñez, Salah’s partners in the front three. “A lot of those goals were world-class,” said Van Dijk, before expressing particular delight at the display of his Gakpo, his Netherlands teammate, after the forward’s slow start since his arrival in January from PSV Eindhoven.
“The winter’s a difficult time for any player to come into any club but he’s settling in very well. It’s a difficult position to play. He has to keep going, keep the confidence, keep the belief. He will be fine for this club; he’s a fantastic player.”
Núñez arrived from Benfica last summer and soon found himself in the midst of the team’s unexpected struggles that, until Sunday endorsed recent hints of an impending renaissance, had largely blemished Liverpool’s season. “Darwin’s causing chaos all the time with his speed, his passion and also the quality,” said Van Dijk. “The front three are very clinical. It’s been a difficult season, but this was a great day.”
Firmino has announced he will be leaving in the summer. “That position of a false 9 is Bobby Firmino’s,” Van Dijk said. “He’s been so influential for this club and he should definitely be remembered as one of the legends.”
The same applies to Van Dijk, but he is not planning on leaving Liverpool any time soon and was delighted to have regained his once customary habit of helping his team secure clean sheets. “Winning games starts with defending,” said a centre-half whose attention turns next to Saturday’s match at Bournemouth. “We should be full of confidence but very humble and ready for a tough game.”