Van Dijk return doesn't mean Liverpool will 'automatically win the league again', warns Carragher

Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2020-21Getty

Jamie Carragher has warned that Virgil van Dijk's return doesn't mean Liverpool will "automatically win the league again".

Van Dijk made his first appearance for Liverpool in nine months in their friendly clash with Hertha Berlin last week, having missed the majority of the 2020-21 campaign due to a serious knee injury.

The 30-year-old is still working his way back to full fitness after surgery and Carragher doesn't want to see him rushed back onto a competitive stage too early, with the Reds set to open their latest Premier League campaign away at Norwich City on August 14.

Article continues below

What's been said?

Van Dijk played an instrumental role in Liverpool's run to the title in 2019-20, but Carragher says he will need time to reach the same level again after such a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

"I think we have to be careful and I think Jurgen Klopp will be," the former Reds defender said at a Soccer Aid event.

"I don't think we should expect that Virgil van Dijk comes back into Liverpool and Liverpool are going to automatically win the league again this season.

"He's had a really serious injury and he's got to make sure he is not rushed back. If he's back to his best he is the best central defender in world football and that's what Liverpool will want over the next five or six years, not the next five or six weeks.

"If he doesn't make the first game of the season it's not the end of the world, it is about making sure Virgil van Dijk is 100 per cent right so he's in a position where he can have the next five or six years at Liverpool at a top level.

"It may be a gentle start with Virgil until we see him when he is 100 per cent right, but if that could be on that first game of the season and he can play the next few games I think everyone would be delighted."

Carragher on transfers

After seeing a lack of depth in defence derail their last campaign, Jurgen Klopp has already moved to reinforce his backline with the addition of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.

Liverpool spent £36 million ($50m) to sign the 22-year-old, but Carragher feels more spending will be necessary in attacking positions if they are to have any hope of closing the gap on reigning champions Manchester City.

"I think in terms of numbers it's not a problem, I think it is in terms of quality," he added.

"If we didn't bring in another addition it may be difficult to knock Manchester City off the top, and let's not forget Chelsea, the European champions, and Manchester United, who have had a great window with (Raphael) Varane and (Jadon) Sancho.

"I'd like to see someone who could get goals, whether that's from midfield or part of the front three.

"I am just wary a little bit with Liverpool, after last season going into this season, as to whether there are enough goals in the team for them to go and win the title, but I am expecting a big season from (Sadio) Mane. He didn't have his best season but he's looking really sharp in pre-season, hopefully he can be the guy who can plug that gap in terms of goals."

Further reading