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Virgil van Dijk sends ‘fidget’ Erling Haaland message to Premier League

Liverpool defender Vigil van Dijk got up close and personal with Erling Haaland during his side's victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield.

Virgil van Dijk has warned Premier League defenders that facing Erling Haaland will be “horrible.”

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After becoming the most sought-after young striker on the transfer market, Haaland joined Manchester City for £51 million. City striker Haaland did not score in the Community Shield against Liverpool, but van Dijk believes he can be a huge success in the Premier League.

“He will make defenders’ lives in England horrible!” said Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk. He’s very direct. He has it all: he can head the ball and he’s quick. But we managed to keep him at bay. He only had one, well, two chances, but other than that, we worked well together.

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“The focus is always the same for every striker. He obviously has a lot of qualities that can make life difficult for defenders. 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 Nunez in our case.”

Haaland has branded van Dijk a “physical monster” in the past and clearly the respect is mutual and, despite the Norway star missing a late sitter, his movement and pace was outstanding.

Van Dijk also warned that Mohamed Salah is showing signs of returning to his best, implying that the Egyptian striker was distracted by the contract saga last season before signing a new £300,000-a-week deal.

“He’s constantly under the microscope,” Van Dijk added. He obviously created that because he’s such a good player, but he demonstrates it all the time. There were a lot of contract talks and stuff towards the end of the season, maybe April onwards. We are all human beings, and I believe that had an impact on him. Nonetheless, he demonstrated a high level of quality. Now that everything is in order, he can play freely, he’s happy to be here, and I believe everyone else is as well!”

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Meanwhile, despite the defeat to Liverpool, Pep Guardiola believes City will be ready to defend their Premier League title. Guardiola insists his team is “getting closer” and has issued a forewarning ahead of their first game against West Ham on Sunday.

“There is no reason not to be confident,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. There is no reason. What these guys have accomplished, not only in the Premier League, but also in the cups and in Europe…

“I’m not sure what will happen this season, but I know these guys.” I have absolutely no reservations. We lost a final we would have preferred to win, but we respect the opponent and know the standards we must meet and maintain. We’re getting closer.

We played very well against Bayern a few days ago, and we did very well against Liverpool. I don’t think we’re that far apart. But what happens against West Ham and Bournemouth will be determined by the end of the game. It will determine our level. There will be processes that are not perfect, which we will have to correct and improve.”

Guardiola also insisted that £45m new boy Kalvin Phillips just needs more time to adapt, having been left on the bench against Liverpool. He also faces huge competition with Rodri, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan. Guardiola added: “He has confidence. He’s ready to play. He only arrived three weeks ago and we have Rodri, Bernardo and Gundogan who know it. But step by step he will get it. In many games he is going to help us.”

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