Virgil van Dijk says World Cup disappointment will fuel his desire for success with Liverpool and the Netherlands in 2023, saying anything is possible in what could prove to be a “very crazy” Premier League season.
An encouraging World Cup ended on a low note for the Netherlands and their captain when they were beaten on penalties in a quarter-final shaken by Argentina. Van Dijk’s penalty was saved by Emiliano Martínez in the shootout, which the eventual champions won 4-3, causing several sleepless nights for the Liverpool defender.
Van Dijk, however, believes he can channel the setback into a successful year for club and country, and suggested Liverpool’s aims are higher than finishing in the top four after an inconsistent first half of the season. Jürgen Klopp’s side have won four consecutive Premier League games to close the gap on Champions League contenders ahead of Monday’s trip to Brentford.
The Netherlands captain said: “I had time to think. It was a great experience leading the boys there and it comes with a lot of responsibility. The whole world is watching, which is something I really enjoyed.
“Things were disappointing at the end for us, that’s also part of football. It was a tough few days but then it was about getting back to the most important things in life; my wife and children.
“It motivates me because I want to succeed with the Netherlands. I feel like we have a fantastic team and a new era with the return of Ronald Koeman and young players like Cody [Gakpo] for instance. He can take big steps with his transfer and then become more important for us.
“I hope we can do something good this summer with the Nations League finals, it’s something I really want to win, even if it’s the end of the season where you’re absolutely broken.
“It also motivated me here. We are quite a few points behind Arsenal but the season could be very crazy, very strange. But we have to be realistic and we’re not thinking about the title right now. We have to focus on the game ahead of us, win games and then we’ll see.
The World Cup quarter-final was acrimonious throughout and ended with Argentina players taunting the Netherlands after the penalty shootout. Van Dijk said: “It was a very intense game from start to finish for both teams. You’ve seen me do things I don’t normally do. [The shove on Leandro Paredes] was something I don’t normally do but it was the heat of the moment and we’re all human beings. They won, we lost on penalties, and that’s the harsh reality.
Frenchman Ibrahima Konaté is expected to be available for the Brentford game after a post-World Cup final break while Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Curtis Jones could return from injury. New signing Gakpo could feature if registered in time but is more likely to make his debut against Wolves in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Klopp reiterated that there is not an infinite amount of money for transfers. “I’ve been here seven years now and every window is pretty much the same; we talk about these things as if money doesn’t play a role,” he said. “It’s never like that. We sign an exceptional player like Cody Gakpo and then you read about the next player. We can’t play like Monopoly. Of course we can’t just spend and never could.
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