Van Dijk after UCL exit: “Players are going to leave Liverpool”
By Martin Graham | 17th Mar 2023
His statement was made matter-of-factly and on the back of Roberto Firmino’s imminent summer exit, the club’s form in the 2022/23 season and the ownership crisis surrounding the club.
“Obviously players are going to leave,” Van Dijk told the ECHO. “That’s obviously been announced so we have to [recruit], if we want to be where we have been the last five years, then we obviously need quality imports, especially with those players leaving. I think that’s quite obvious.
“But everyone knows that’s going to be very difficult, it is going to be very difficult to find the right players but the club has to do their job in this case.
“We still have a lot of games to play for us and we want to be in the Champions League. I think that will also help to attract the best players in the world. Not all the time but it will definitely help.”
Along with Firmino who has chosen not to sign a contract extension with the club in the summer so he can leave for free, veteran midfielder and utility man James Milner, as well as Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also out of contract in the summer.
Milner’s and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cases are unclear but Keita could join Firmino in walking out the door in the summer.
There have been reports of interest from AC Milan and from his former club Red Bull Leipzig wanting to add the Guinean midfielder to their ranks ahead of the 2023/24 season. His decision is unclear but reports around the issue suggest that Keita is leaning towards an exit after a topsy-turvy five years at Anfield.
Van Dijk’s call to the leadership to “do their job” in securing capable replacements is very timely. His belief that attaining Champions League football could also help their cause holds some water, because the manner of their season so far – in all competitions – leaves much to be desired.
Jurgen Klopp has been at the club’s helm for seven years but it is only the third time in six seasons that the club has been unable to reach the final of Europe’s prestigious competition.
But unlike past seasons, their only hope of qualifying for next season’s competition is finishing in the Premier League top four and that task is looking harder as the match weeks go by.
Liverpool will have to impress with the 11 match weeks remaining in the league season to stand a chance of recruiting quality players as they prepare to transition into a new era.