The Dutchman hailed a prolific Anfield colleague for his exploits in the final third after he notched his 19th goal of the season against West Ham
Virgil van Dijk has described Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah as a “fantastic player” while pointing to his impressive goalscoring record as proof of how important he is to the team.
Liverpool secured a record-equalling 18th successive Premier League victory by beating West Ham 3-2 at Anfield on Monday, thanks to goals from Georginio Wijnaldum, Salah and Sadio Mane.
Salah’s 15th top-flight strike from 24 outings this season owed a great deal to Lukasz Fabianski’s poor handling in the Hammers’ net, but the Egyptian produced a superb piece of movement to get on the end of Andrew Robertson’s neat cut-back.
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Leicester forward Jamie Vardy lead the race for his year’s Golden Boot on 17 goals, but Salah could win the award for a third successive year if he can keep firing on all cylinders between now and May.
The 27-year-old broke the record for the most goals scored in a single top-flight campaign when he hit 32 for the Reds in 2017-18, and followed up that success with another 22 goals the following the season.
When asked if Salah is the man for big moments after Liverpool’s latest win, Van Dijk was effusive in his praise for the frontman, highlighting his contribution defensively in addition to his output in front of goal.
“I think he has shown over the seasons he has been here that he is a fantastic player and the numbers speak for themselves,” the Netherlands international told reporters post-match.
“We are very happy with him and that is the most important thing for him as well.
“He is a very important member of our squad, scoring-wise but also the defending, it is a big part of our game as well so we are just very happy and let’s keep it going.”
Liverpool are 22 points clear in the Premier League standings after 27 fixtures, and on course for an unbeaten season after extending their run without a defeat to 44 games.
Jurgen Klopp’s men haven’t been able to live up their usual high standards since returning to action after the winter break though, with a narrow 1-0 win at Norwich recorded before a Champions League last 16 first-leg defeat to Atletico Madrid.
The Reds’ triumph over West Ham was similarly unconvincing, but Van Dijk doesn’t think the time away from the pitch disrupted the squad’s rhythm.
“I think we should take advantage of the break we had. Everyone had their time off, we all enjoyed it and we are all ready for the second part of the season,” Van Dijk added.
“If you are looking for negatives then so be it but we want to win games, we know it is going to be tough every game and obviously the goal they scored was their only opportunity, not even a real opportunity, but it is a goal they scored, give them a big boost and if it stays 1-0 or 2-0, there is nothing to be said.
“We will just keep going and stay positive and not get nervous. That is the main thing.”