Just How Important Are These Two Players?
It can be definitely argued that the two recent good seasons for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are mainly due to the signings and subsequent good form of Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk. Both players joined during the 2017-2018 season for big money, with Salah coming in the summer for over £35 million while Van Dijk joined in the winter transfer window for £70 million. The Dutchman’s fee being a world record for a defender until Harry Maguire’s move to Manchester United.
Since their transfers, Liverpool have finished in 4th and 2nd positions within the English Premier League and reached two Champions League Finals in a row, winning the second against Tottenham Hotspur. While the two years before their arrival, The Reds did not even appear in the Champions League.
The main criticism aimed at the club was in regards to their shaky defensive record, where they were unable to keep clean sheets and lots of errors stopped them from taking points against the top teams in the League. Virgil Van Dijk has singlehandedly turned this on its head with his calmness at the back contributing to 45 clean sheets since he has arrived. Much has been made of the fact that players just can’t get past the big Dutchman, with him just having the intelligence to be in the right place at the right time. Something that Liverpool’s defence did not have before him. He has also made those around him better, with Joel Matip in particular looking a completely different player since being partnered with Van Dijk.
At the other end of the pitch, Egyptian king Mohamed Salah has been the firepower that Liverpool has lacked ever since Luis Suarez left for Barcelona in 2014. After a relatively uninspiring stint at Chelsea, not much was expected of Salah even with the high transfer fee, and there was plenty of surprise that Liverpool had made their move for him. After scoring 44 goals in all competitions in his first season at the club, he followed this up with 27 in his second campaign. Salah, according to betting comparison site Findbettingsites.co.uk, is the 12th highest paid player in World Football and Liverpool are arguably getting their money’s worth.
Other players at the club have definitely made contributions to the club’s recent success. Players such as Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane would be disappointed at being in their team mate’s shadows but in terms of all round contribution you cannot look further than Salah and Van Dijk. Liverpool would definitely be worse off without these two players in their squad.
As long as Van Dijk stopping the opposition at the back and Salah is banging them in up top, Liverpool are not going to be far away from their first ever Premier League trophy.