'If we play like that we won't win' - Van Dijk sounds Liverpool warning ahead of Man City clash

Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2019-20
Getty Images
The Reds were thrashed by Napoli on Sunday and face the Premier League champions in this weekend's Community Shield at Wembley

Virgil van Dijk has warned Liverpool they will need big improvements before they take on Manchester City in the Community Shield this weekend.

The Reds’ testing pre-season reached a low point on Sunday when they were hammered 3-0 by Serie A runners-up Napoli at Murrayfield.

It leaves Jurgen Klopp’s side without a win in their last four friendlies, three of which have been lost. Liverpool have now conceded 11 times in six pre-season games.

Klopp admitted afterwards that the situation was “not cool” but his squad travelled to a training camp in France boosted by the return of five senior players. Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita, Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker and Xherdan Shaqiri were all part of the 29-man party which headed to Evian on Monday.

Preparation has not been ideal ahead of the new season, which gets underway with the traditional curtain-raiser at Wembley this Sunday, but Van Dijk believes a game against City could be exactly what the Reds need.

“We have to be at our top level,” he told reporters. “If we play like that, we won’t win the Community Shield, it’s as simple as that. 

“But we have a good week to prepare ourselves with a friendly as well, which is good for the boys who are coming back. We will definitely be ready for City.”

It is set to be a week of hard work for Liverpool’s players, with double sessions and a friendly against Lyon in Geneva to be squeezed in. 

Klopp says they will use it to get “freshness” back, but Van Dijk remembers last season’s camp as being key in terms of more than just fitness.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said when asked about its importance. “Last year we had a very tough camp over there. There was a lot of hard work and also a lot of tactical work as well. I expect a little bit of the same. 

“Obviously our season starts properly on Sunday, so this week will make sure our heads are together and focused on City.”

Virgil van Dijk 2019

Liverpool’s summer has been dominated by questions over the club’s lack of transfer activity, with the only arrivals being teenage duo Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott, who made his debut against Napoli.

Van Dijk, though, is unconcerned by such issues, and believes the current squad is capable of much more.

Article continues below

“There’s plenty more to come from the team,” he said. “At times [against Napoli] we showed promising football as well, and there’s a reason why we are European champions.

“Everyone knows the players who are missing are important players for us. That’s a fact. But we have to deal with it in this situation.

“We have to stay calm, we want to win games, but Napoli was just a little bit better. The best thing is that it’s pre-season.”