Five players who should be desperate to prove themselves in the Carabao Cup

The Carabao Cup has thrown up some interesting third-round ties (Picture: Getty)As several top teams flatter to deceive in the early stages of the season, the Carabao Cup provides a timely opportunity for otherwise peripheral players to put their hands up for selection.

With Arsenal and Manchester United both adrift of the Premier League top-four, Unai Emery and Jose Mourinho are still some way from settling on their strongest starting XIs.

Emery will look to experiment as Arsenal take on Championship outfit Brentford at the Emirates. United, meanwhile, may be tempted to play it safe as they search for a morale-boosting win at home to Derby County.

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Master takes on apprentice as Mourinho looks to knock Lampard’s side out of the competition following United’s disappointing draw with Wolves in the English top flight.

Elsewhere, Liverpool take on Chelsea in the standout fixture of the third round. The likes of Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, both summer arrivals on Merseyside, will be desperate for minutes after underwhelming starts to the season.

Five players who should use the Carabao Cup as a springboard…

Ander Herrera (Manchester United)

Ander Herrera has been out of action since United’s victory over Burnley (Picture: Getty)Ander Herrera will be desperate to get out on the pitch again after suffering an ankle injury at the start of September which meant he missed United’s last three matches.

The midfielder made 27 Premier League starts in Mourinho’s first season at Old Trafford but this dropped to just 13 last term – and the signing of Fred could reduce his playing time further still.

Mourinho has confirmed that Herrera is ‘ready’ for Tuesday night’s clash and the Spaniard could be picked as an experienced head alongside youngsters Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay, with Paul Pogba likely to be rested.

Once a favourite among United fans, Herrera is still to convince Mourinho that he should be a regular starter in midfield.

An assured performance against emerging talent Mason Mount, on loan at Derby from Chelsea, could see Herrera squeeze into United’s XI away at West Ham on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho on injury concerns ahead of Derby clash

‘Ander is ready. Marcos Rojo is the only player who is not available through injury and this is Marcus Rashford’s last suspension match.’

Fabinho (Liverpool)

Fabinho is yet to start for the Merseyside giants (Picture: Getty)Jordan Henderson and James Milner may have been worried for their places following the arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho in the summer

While Keita has settled into the Premier League without breaking sweat, though, £39million signing Fabinho has had a more frustrating start to life on Merseyside and is yet to make a start for the Reds.

A difficult pre-season raised concerns about Fabinho’s fitness levels but Jurgen Klopp claimed earlier this month that the Brazilian was making ‘big steps’ towards his full debut.

Klopp will be tempted to throw him in at the deep end at home to Chelsea on Wednesday evening. The midfielder’s experience in the Champions League with Monaco should mean he’s not overawed by the occasion.

A strong display in front of the Anfield faithful could give Fabinho a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the stiffer test of the Premier League.

Klopp on Fabinho after Liverpool’s win over Leicester

‘Fabinho could have been in the squad, of course, but it’s quite difficult to make the squad at the moment because they are all fit. It’s good to have the situation as one might need a bit of time, or the others are more used to it. That’s the only reason.

‘But he will come back. And now we have games every three days, and he has made big steps in the last few weeks.’

Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool)

Xherdan Shaqiri is pushing for a start against Chelsea (Picture: Getty)Another Liverpool new boy hoping for a start versus Chelsea is Xherdan Shaqiri who completed a £13.5million move from Stoke City ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

Shaqiri arrived as support for Liverpool’s all-star front-three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, but the Swiss will hope, in the coming months, to prove he’s more than just back-up.

Klopp claimed his decision to hook Shaqiri off at half time versus Southampton was for ‘tactical reasons’ and the winger will undoubtedly have been upset by his manager’s decision.

Shaqiri’s deflected effort against the Saints also went down as an own-goal – what better way to fire him up ahead of the clash with Chelsea?

The former Bayern Munich man shone in pre-season for Liverpool but is yet to find the net this term. A goal against Chelsea would do him the world of good.

Klopp on substituting Shaqiri at half time vs Southampton

‘I said to Shaq that I have never taken a player off at half-time after such an influential half but we wanted more control. He wasn’t injured.

‘It was a good performance. We did a lot of work on set-pieces so it’s pleasing all three goals came from set-pieces.

‘Shaq is a fantastic boy. The free-kick was outstanding. He tried everything and he is a good player to have. Great offensively, needs a little work defensively.’

Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)

Lukasz Fabianski denied Alvaro Morata at London Stadium at the weekend (Picture: Getty)Despite a scintillating start at Chelsea, Alvaro Morata’s Chelsea career appears to be at an impasse.

A crucial 81st-minute winner in Chelsea’s second match of the season against Arsenal provided hope but the Spaniard hasn’t scored since and Olivier Giroud has shown more to impress new manager Maurizio Sarri.

The likes of Eden Hazard and Willian look far more comfortable behind the unselfish Giroud. However, without a centre-forward scoring regular goals for the Blues, they are unlikely to battle for trophies this term.

An improved performance against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup could persuade Sarri to start Morata again against the Reds just four days later in the Premier League.

There’s no doubting that Morata has the talent, but the striker must ensure that a frustrating opening to the campaign doesn’t turn into an unfulfilled career at Stamford Bridge.

Sarri after Morata’s unconvincing display vs PAOK

‘Alvaro has to gain confidence with one, two three goals. I am not able to give him confidence.

‘In this match he had three or four opportunities. He was unlucky. I hope for him in the future I can help him. But the confidence can come with goals. Maybe two goals in two matches, I don’t know.

‘For the first time in this season he was ready in the box. He was on the ball and was active.’

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has returned from an ankle injury (Picture: Getty)Henrikh Mkhitaryan started Arsenal’s opening two matches of the season but a 2-0 defeats to Manchester City followed by a 3-2 loss away at Chelsea was hardly the start the Armenian had hoped for.

Many have questioned whether Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil play together in a Unai Emery team built around pressing the opposition.

The former Manchester United playmaker picked up an ankle injury in Arsenal’s Europa League victory over Vorskla Poltava but is available for selection for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup test at home to Brentford.

Ozil, who played the full 90 minutes against Everton at the weekend, is expected to be rested and Mkhitaryan will be desperate to prove he can be Emery’s main man in midfield.

A strong performance could see him sneak back Arsenal’s XI as they look to leapfrog Watford with a victory over Javi Gracia in the Premier League on Saturday.

Paul Merson on Unai Emery’s dilemma with Mkhitaryan and Ozil

‘He hasn’t got the players to have a 20-yard gap between defence and attack, working hard. Ozil and Mkhitaryan are not those type of players.

‘If you were building a team tomorrow, you’d want to play a high pressing game, work as a team, not to have gaps between the lines, and you’re not buying Ozil and Mkhitaryan.

‘If you go the Arsene Wenger way, wanting to play entertaining, free-flowing, great football, then Ozil and Mkhitaryan will walk in any team in the world.

‘But they will not get in teams that want to press!

MORE: Luka Modric wins the Best FIFA Men’s Player award as Fifpro World XI is named

Luka Modric wins the Best FIFA Men’s Player award as Fifpro World XI is named

Luka Modric beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah to the prize (Picture: Getty)Luka Modric came away with the Best FIFA Men’s Player award after a standout year with Real Madrid and Croatia.

The midfielder was in a three-way battle with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah for the prize at a star-studded event in London on Monday evening.

Modric lifted the Champions League trophy with Madrid at the end of May before captaining Croatia at the World Cup in Russia where they finished runners-up behind France.

The nominees were voted for by national team coaches (25%), national team captains (25%), select media representatives (25%) and an online vote (25%).

After receiving the award, Modric said: ‘I would like to congratulate Mohamed and Cristiano for the great seasons they had.

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‘This is not just mine it’s for all my Madrid team-mates, all my Croatian team-mates and all coaches the I’ve played for – without them this would not be possible.

‘This is also for my family and without them I would not be the player and person I am. They are the best.

‘Thanks to my fans all over the world for great support and love they are showing me. It means a lot to me and I would like to thank those who voted for me.’

All the winners at the Best FIFA Awards 2018

FIFA Puskas Goal of the Year

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) vs Everton

Coach of the Year

Didier Deschamps (France)

Goalkeeper of the Year

Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/Real Madrid/Belgium)

Best Women’s Coach

Reynald Pedros (Lyon)

FIFA Fan Award

Peru fans

Fair Play Award

Lennart Thy

Best Women’s Award

Marta (Orlando Pride/Brazil)

Best Men’s Award

Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia)

Modric was also selected in the Fifpro World XI and was joined by Premier League stars David De Gea, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard.

Fifpro World XI

De Gea

Alves – Varane – Ramos – Marcelo

Modric – Kante

Hazard – Messi – Mbappe


Mohamed Salah won the Puskas award for his goal against Everton (Picture: Getty)Salah lifted the Puskas award for the best goal of the last 12 months after his stunning effort for Liverpool against arch-rivals Everton.

‘Nothing much to say about that but I’m very happy and very proud,’ the Egyptian said after winning the Puskas award.

‘I have to thank everyone who voted for me. Looking forward for another award tonight!’

MORE: Liverpool fans react as Mohamed Salah wins FIFA Puskas Award for best goal

Liverpool fans react as Mohamed Salah wins FIFA Puskas Award for best goal

Mohamed Salah’s goal against Everton was deemed the best of the last 12 months (Picture: Getty)Liverpool supporters were stunned as Mohamed Salah came away with the Puskas prize at the Best FIFA Football Awards 2018.

Many assumed Gareth Bale would walk away with the award after his stunning overhead kick for Real Madrid against Liverpool, arguably the greatest goal in Champions League history.

Salah was forced off in the 30th minute in Kiev after being hauled to the ground by Sergio Ramos which saw him miss the start of the World Cup. But at least the Egyptian phenomenon had something to smile about on Monday night.

The forward’s wonder goal for Liverpool against arch-rivals Everton was considered the best of the last 12 months.

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‘Good evening everyone. Nothing much to say about that but I’m very happy and very proud,’ Salah said after winning the Puskas award.

‘I have to thank everyone who voted for me. Looking forward for another award tonight!’

Here’s how Liverpool fans reacted to Salah coming away with the prize…

@LFC— Bret Sutherland (@bretsutherland) September 24, 2018

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted that Salah has won for his goal against the Ev. But surely the 1st goal against Roma is twice the goal?! #LFC
— Blood Red Kop (@BloodRedKop) September 24, 2018

Cannot believe Mo won goal of the season over that unbelievable goal by Bale but who cares 😂😂 Mo Salah the #egyptianking #lfc
— Dave Abraham (@gaffer1968) September 24, 2018

Eden Hazard wants Mohamed Salah to win the Best FIFA Men’s Player award (Picture: Getty)Salah is also in a three-way battle with Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard revealed that he was hoping for his good pal Salah to triumph.

‘I voted for Luka Modric, but Mo Salah is my friend so I would like him to win,’ the Belgian admitted on the red carpet.

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Eden Hazard reveals who he voted for to win Best FIFA Men’s Player award

Eden Hazard voted for Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric (Picture: Getty)Eden Hazard has revealed that he voted for Real Madrid and Croatia superstar Luka Modric to win the Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

While Chelsea winger Hazard is in the running to be named in the Fifpro World XI, the main individual prize on Monday night is a three-way battle between Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah.

It’s the first time since 2006 that Barcelona icon Lionel Messi has not been among the candidates for FIFA’s top award after a mixed 12 months for the iconic Argentine.

The nominees are voted for by national team coaches (25%), national team captains (25%), select media representatives (25%) and via an online vote (25%).

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Modric is arguably in pole position for the main award after winning the Golden Ball at this summer’s World Cup in Russia where Croatia finished runners-up.

Asked who he wants to win, Hazard revealed: ‘I voted for Luka Modric, but Mo Salah is my friend so I would like him to win.’

Luka Modric won the Golden Ball at the 2018 World Cup (Picture: Getty)

Premier League stars on 55-man shortlist for Fifpro World XI

David de Gea (Man Utd), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Yerry Mina (Everton), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Harry Kane, (Spurs), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Nemanja Matic (Man Utd), Paul Pogba (Man Utd), David Silva (Man City), Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Kyle Walker (Man City)

Modric believes he had the standout year of his career, winning the Champions League with Madrid and captaining Croatia to the final of the World Cup.

‘It was the best season of my life, I’m very happy to be here tonight,’ Modric said on the red carpet.

Luka Modric had a huge 12 months for club and country (Picture: Getty)Dejan Lovren believes that international team-mate Modric would get more recognition if he played for Spain or Germany.

‘It is a real pleasure to play with Luka Modric, who is one of the best players in the world right now,’ the Liverpool defender said back in June.

‘Modric would probably be getting more attention than he is right now if he was a German or Spanish player. He would maybe even be a Ballon d’Or winner.

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‘But because we are a smaller country, he does get less attention than he deserves.

‘We are all football lovers and we know Modric is an incredible player.’

MORE: Frenkie de Jong’s agent speaks out on Manchester United rumours

Jamie Carragher predicts Manchester United and Arsenal will finish outside of top four

Manchester United endured a difficult start to the campaign (Picture: Getty)Arsenal and Manchester United are already on track to miss out on a top four spot this season, according to Jamie Carragher.

Liverpool are currently top of the Premier League table, with Chelsea and Manchester City just two points behind the Reds, with six games played so far this season.

Arsenal and United occupy sixth and seventh respectively, having already suffered two defeats this campaign.

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And Carragher expects Tottenham to pip Arsenal and United to a Champions League spot, after Spurs bounced back from back-to-back losses.

‘On the evidence of what we’ve seen I’d say Arsenal or Manchester United from what we’ve seen in these opening six games,’ Carragher said on Sky Sports when asked which teams would miss out.

‘The others look a little bit further up. Tottenham have had a little bit of a wobble, a good result for them on Saturday but it will be really tight and it always is with the top six.’

Klopp looks set to lead a title charge from Liverpool this season (Picture: Getty)He added: ‘I think the top six are so far ahead now that if just one or two of them teams on any given weekend drop points it feels like a really big thing for the rest of the other teams because a lot of the other dropped points come from each other.

‘So far Liverpool winning, City winning, for Tottenham and Arsenal, for Chelsea and United to drop points against two of the lesser sides it’s a really big thing.

‘City showed last year – and whoever is going to win the title this year – that the points total now to win the title – it was 80 or so when I was playing – but it’s 90 plus now.’

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Chelsea have enjoyed an unexpectedly brilliant start to the season under new coach Maurizio Sarri, while Liverpool are yet to drop points this campaign.

City are the defending champions and remain favourites to go on to successfully retain the title under the guidance of Pep Guardiola.

Liverpool will not win the Premier League title this season, says David Moyes

Klopp has slowly transformed Liverpool in potential title contenders (Picture: Getty)Liverpool are not good enough to win the Premier League this season, according to David Moyes.

The Reds are top of the table after six games, two points ahead of Chelsea and defending champions Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp’s side seem primed to launch a serious title bid, with just two goals conceded in six games and a star studded attacking line.

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But Moyes, a former Manchester United and Everton manager, is not backing the Reds to finally lift a Premier League trophy this season.

‘No, I don’t think so,’ Moyes told Sky Sports when asked if Liverpool could win the title.

‘I think they’ve got a really good team, but you look back at teams over the years at Liverpool and they had great teams, when it was (Xabi) Alonso, (Javier) Mascherano, (Steven) Gerrard and (Fernando) Torres up front.

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‘This is a good Liverpool team as well – I don’t know if it’s quite as good as that team at that time. They’re playing a good style, with forward players who are exceptional, and because of that I think they’re a real threat.’

The Rafael Benitez side that boasted Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres finished second in the 2008/09 season, four points behind winners United, but the following campaign plummeted to seventh place.

While Liverpool were a formidable force going forward last season, Klopp seems to have finally solved their defensive failings by bringing in goalkeeper Alisson and centre-back Virgil van Dijk in the last nine months.

The Reds begin a double header against Chelsea on Wednesday, before a crucial game against Manchester City at Anfield on 7 October.

MORE: Xherdan Shaqiri as confident as ever, insists Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Xherdan Shaqiri as confident as ever, insists Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Shaqiri was in fine form in his first start for Liverpool against Southampton (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp dismissed concerns Xherdan Shaqiri’s confidence may be affected after hauling off the forward at half-time against Southampton.

Shaqiri put in a star performance in the first half against the Saints, being directly involved in two of Liverpool’s three goals.

But in a strange move, Klopp elected to bring James Milner on for Shaqiri and the winger did not appear for the second 45 minutes.

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Many pundits and fans suggested Shaqiri would be baffled, even upset, by Klopp’s decision making, but the Liverpool boss is not worried about his summer signing’s morale.

‘No, because I explained it. Now it is done,’ Klopp said when asked if Shaqiri’s confidence might have taken a knock.

‘It’s not because of his performance, and I’m not worried it will cost his confidence. He is a naturally confident boy, and he will play again. It’s all good.

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‘I made a decision that I wanted to bring him in to play between the lines. But changing system and not having real time to do it in training doesn’t feel comfortable.

‘You saw it. Defensively we are used to jumping from midfield positions, and today that made it difficult, so I made the tactical change, that’s all.’

Liverpool continue a crucial run of fixtures with a Carabao Cup clash with Chelsea on Wednesday night at Anfield.

Klopp brought on Milner in a change of system at half-time (Picture: Getty)The Reds are yet to lose this season and the victory over Southampton was their seventh win a row this campaign.

Chelsea too are undefeated this term, and welcome Liverpool back to Stamford Bridge on Saturday in the Premier League.

MORE: What Jurgen Klopp told Xherdan Shaqiri after hauling him off at half time

Maurizio Sarri identifies the reason Liverpool are a ‘step ahead’ of Chelsea

Chelsea are preparing to take on Liverpool in the Carabao Cup and Premier League (Picture: Getty)Maurizio Sarri believes Liverpool are a ‘step ahead’ of Chelsea as they have had more time to gel as a team under Jurgen Klopp.

The Blues had won every match of the season in all competitions ahead of their trip to London Stadium but were held to a goalless draw by an organised West Ham side on Sunday afternoon.

Eden Hazard, Willian and Olivier Giroud were left frustrated and it was substitute Alvaro Morata who came closest to scoring, but the Spaniard was denied by Lukasz Fabianski from close range.

The result means Liverpool are the only team remaining with a 100 per cent record in the Premier League ahead of their Carabao Cup clash with Chelsea on Wednesday night.

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Chelsea then return from Merseyside to host Liverpool in the Premier League next weekend.

‘We have to play against a very, very good team,’ Sarri replied when asked about the prospect of facing Liverpool after Chelsea’s draw with West Ham.

‘Against a team who have worked with the same coach for three or four seasons.

Chelsea drew with West Ham at London Stadium (Picture: Getty)‘They are a step ahead of us at this moment. We have started to work all together only about 40 days ago, less 10 for the international break, so for us it’s a bit early.

‘We have to work then, maybe, in one year we will be at the same level as Liverpool.

‘We need to move the ball quicker, I think. We need more movement without the ball. We are improving in the defensive phase. In the last two or three matches we’ve done very well.

‘But we have to improve in the offensive phase, especially in this kind of match.’

Liverpool have a 100 per cent record in the Premier League (Picture: Getty)Sarri believes Chelsea badly missed the movement of Pedro against West Ham with the Spaniard unavailable through injury.

‘Pedro for us is very important, because he is the best player we have with movement without the ball,’ Sarri said.

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‘We are trying to have him back for the end of the week, but I don’t know at the moment.’

MORE: Unai Emery explains why he almost substituted Alexandre Lacazette before Everton wonder goal

What Jurgen Klopp told Xherdan Shaqiri after hauling him off at half time

The former Stoke man was involved in two of Liverpool’s goals (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp has praised Xherdan Shaqiri’s performance against Southampton on Saturday though says he withdrew the summer signing in an effort to get more ‘control’ in the match.

The Switzerland international started for the first time in the comprehensive 3-0 victory over Saints, and had a hand in two of the side’s three first-half goals.

His early cross ended up in the back of the net via Wesley Hoedt, and then a stunning free-kick on the stroke of half-time bounced off the crossbar and was tapped in by Mohamed Salah.

Shaqiri put on an exciting performance before being replaced by James Milner (Getty)But while Klopp was hugely impressed with Shaqiri’s attacking efforts in the match, he opted to bring on James Milner at half-time to provide more stability.

‘I said to Shaq that I have never taken a player off at half-time after such an influential half but we wanted more control. He wasn’t injured,’ Klopp explained.

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‘It was a good performance. We did a lot of work on set-pieces so it’s pleasing all three goals came from set-pieces.

‘Shaq is a fantastic boy. The free-kick was outstanding. He tried everything and he is a good player to have. Great offensively, needs a little work defensively.’

Klopp was not entirely happy with his side’s performance despite the win (Picture: Getty)He added: ‘The result is really cool and the performance could have been better.

‘The changes cost us as I changed the system. Shaqiri was influential and Joel Matip was too, but our organisation was a problem.

‘You could see that with the communication on the pitch, but we changed back to a system we are used to.’

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The reason Arsenal turned down the chance to sign Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk for just £12million

Virgil Van Dijk cost Liverpool £75million from Southampton in January (Picture: Getty)Arsenal turned down the chance to sign Virgil van Dijk from Celtic when he would have cost just £12million.

The Netherlands international was scouted by all of England’s major clubs during his time in the Scottish Premier League but only Southampton were prepared to take the gamble and eventually brought him south of the boarder three years ago.

According to former Celtic assistant manager John Collins, Arsene Wenger had been keen on Van Dijk but the club’s now former chief scout, Steve Rowley, thought the elegant centre-half was too ‘nonchalant’.

‘Arsenal’s chief scout thought he was too nonchalant,’ Collins told beIN Sport. ‘Maybe that was part of his game but he ticks so many of the other boxes.

‘He’s got pace, power, balance, distribution and he’s good in the air. He can be a bit nonchalant but he is a quality player.

‘Gary McAllister was the assistant to Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and I told him I hope you’re going to come and take Virgil but Brendand didn’t fancy him and didn’t think he was better than what he already had.

‘He would’ve cost around £12m – every team watched him regularly but the worry was he was showing it against Scottish players but you could tell he was strong, powerful and a well balanced player.’

Van Dijk ultimately moved to Anfield in January for a world record £75m and has cemented his reputation as one of the best defenders in world football.

The 27-year-old has been an ever-present in Liverpool’s 100% start to the new season, a run which was extended following Saturday’s 3-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.

Virgil van Dijk was consoled by his teammates (Picture: Reuters)

Virgil can Dijk was replaced by Joe Gomez in the 55th minute (Picture: Getty)Van Dijk was substituted 10 minutes into the second half with a rib injury, but Jurgen Klopp is hoping he will be available for a critical run of fixtures which sees Liverpool play Chelsea twice, Napoli and Manchester City.

‘He had already before the PSG game a bruise on his ribs which is very uncomfortable, and today had another hit there,’ said Klopp.

‘It’s not cool, but it should not be too serious. He said he couldn’t shout anymore, and that’s obviously 60% less his level!

‘He should be absolutely okay, hopefully. I didn’t hear anything different.

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