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‘Haaland will make defenders' lives horrible, he has everything!’ - Van Dijk impressed by 'direct' Man City striker

19:00 GMT+3 31/07/2022
Erling Haaland Virgil van Dijk Manchester City Liverpool 2022-23
The Liverpool defender was able to keep a Norwegian striker relatively quiet during the Community Shield, but expects him to star this season

Virgil van Dijk managed to shut out Erling Haaland during his personal battle with the Manchester City new boy in the 2022 Community Shield, but the Liverpool defender still saw enough from the Norwegian to suggest that he will “make defenders’ lives horrible” in the 2022-23 campaign. A £51 million ($62m) summer signing for the Premier League champions drew a blank against the FA Cup holders as Jurgen Klopp’s side secured a 3-1 victory at the King Power Stadium in Leicester.

Haaland had a few sights of goal in that contest, with the crossbar rattled late on as he fluffed his lines from a couple of yards out, but the expectation is that he will terrorise opponents once fully up to speed and adjusted to the demands of life in England.

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Van Dijk was delighted to have done his job against Haaland and City, with the Blues’ only goal coming from Julian Alvarez following a VAR check, but he said afterwards of facing a prolific No.9: “The focus is always the same for every striker.

“He obviously has a lot of qualities that can make life difficult for defenders. He will make defenders' lives in England horrible!

“He’s so direct. He has everything; he can head the ball, he’s quick. But today we kept him at bay. He had one chance, well two chances, but other than that we did well together.”

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While Haaland was unable to find the net against Liverpool, the Reds’ own big-money No.9 did get his name on the scoresheet after stepping off the bench.

Darwin Nunez will be leading the line for Klopp’s side, with Roberto Firmino expected to fill back-up duties, but he is another that is having to adjust quickly to the challenges posed by the Premier League.

Quizzed on what Haaland needs to do in order to master the English top-flight, Van Dijk said: “Well, I’m not going to give him too much advice! But obviously, he will know that he has to focus on his own game and not what others have to say.

“There is pressure on players who are coming in with a big price tag, but what can you do? You come in to perform, and the club pays a transfer fee for you. You just have to work, and in his case try to score as many goals as possible.

“That’s the same for Darwin in our case.”

Liverpool will open their 2022-23 Premier League campaign at home to Fulham next Saturday, with City starting the defence of their crown a day later away at West Ham.