Virgil Van Dijk is excited by Liverpool’s blend of youth and experience and hopes it can propel them to success this season.

The Dutchman was named as the Reds’ new captain this summer following the departure of Jordan Henderson, who was among a number of long-serving players to leave Anfield.

This season has seen Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp blood young talents like 17-year-old winger Ben Doak and 20-year-old defender Jarell Quansah along with new signings Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch.

Van Dijk told the PA news agency: “I don’t see it as a challenge, things happen for a reason, players move on and new players come in, players get new roles and I think that’s a very exciting thing.

“Obviously the captain has changed, the vice-captain has changed, the leadership group has changed, the players have different responsibilities outside the pitch. I think everyone is enjoying their roles at the moment and the team spirit is very high.

“Everyone is realising that everyone has a role to play and, whether you start, if you’re on the bench or whether you come on, everyone is trying to make a difference. I think so far that’s really good and that’s the basis of success.

“I think the squad we have at the moment looks very exciting. We have the quality to make it difficult for every team in the world.”

Van Dijk enjoys helping guide the younger members of the squad, saying: “You feel a responsibility. I know exactly how I was when I came up the ranks when I was younger.

“It’s never easy and, as one of the older guys, one of the experienced guys, I want to help them where I can.

“Obviously you don’t need to hold their hands but you need to make sure they’re able to perform in the best way possible and I think so far everyone is really enjoying doing that and we have to just keep that level.”

The Reds certainly seem to have turned a corner after last season’s struggles, winning seven games in a row in all competitions prior to last weekend’s controversial loss to Tottenham.

Van Dijk admits it was initially tough to move on following Luis Diaz’s wrongly disallowed goal and red cards for Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota, but he said: “It’s part of life. Obviously it’s difficult but life gives you challenges so you have to deal with it.

“You definitely can take a lot of positive things out of that game. Obviously it’s quite difficult when you lose to see the positive things immediately and that was definitely a difficult period after the game but a couple of days later you realise and you analyse certain things.

“I was really proud to see how strong my team was as a unit. It’s something to build on and we will build on this and just keep going.”

Next up for Liverpool is an away trip on Sunday to Brighton, who will be looking for a response of their own after last weekend’s 6-1 hammering by Aston Villa.

“It’s not really about showing a reaction, it’s just trying to play the best game that you can do at that time,” said Van Dijk. “It’s the last game before the international break so we want to finish this part of the season well.


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“Obviously they had a difficult result the other day but I think they’re a very, very good team with a very good manager, a clear style of play and it’s always been difficult the games we’ve played against them over the last couple of years.

“It’s going to be tough but we have to be confident and try to do everything in our power to win the game. Obviously we have the quality to make it difficult for them and we have to show it.

“The main thing for us is to stay consistent. That’s the key to winning something. And obviously no injuries, and that’s what we try to avoid. I’m very happy with the start we had as a team.”

Van Dijk was speaking in his new role as an ambassador for McDonald’s Fun Football, the largest free grass-roots participation programme in the UK, which offers 250,000 children every year the opportunity to play for free.

“I’m so glad that I’m part of this whole campaign,” said the 32-year-old. “I just want to be an example for the kids. The last free football session I attended in the city centre of Liverpool I took my two eldest daughters with me and they had an amazing time.”

:: McDonald’s Fun Football offers girls and boys, aged 5-11, access to fun and inclusive coaching across the UK for free. Sign up now at

Liverpool overcame a torrid start and a red card for Alexis Mac Allister to beat Bournemouth 3-1 for their first win of the Premier League campaign.

Antoine Semenyo gave the visitors a stunning third-minute lead but Luis Diaz levelled with a neat finish and before half-time Mo Salah tucked in the rebound from his own missed penalty, his 187th Liverpool goal moving him ahead of Steven Gerrard and into fifth in the club’s scoring charts.

Liverpool could have been rocked when Mac Allister was harshly shown a straight red for catching Christie on the foot just before the hour mark, but instead they scored a third moments later as Diogo Jota rifled in a rebound to settle it.

The hosts were fortunate they had not dug themselves an even deeper hole in a chaotic opening few minutes which illustrated the work still ahead as Jurgen Klopp reshapes his side.

With new signing Wataru Endo watching on from the bench after receiving international clearance, the need for such a defensive midfielder was clear as Liverpool repeatedly played themselves into trouble and were made to pay a price by Bournemouth’s energetic press.

The visitors, who have never won a league match at Anfield and who lost here 9-0 12 months ago, thought they had an opener inside 60 seconds as Alisson and Ibrahima Konate both went to try to intercept a long ball down Bournemouth’s left channel, but Jaidon Anthony was offside before tucking the ball in.

No matter, as the opener came two minutes later. Virgil van Dijk played a routine pass to Trent Alexander-Arnold but the England man showed his deficiencies in an inverted role, with a loose touch allowing Philip Billing to prod the ball through for Dominic Solanke.

Andy Robertson prevented the ex-Liverpool man from getting a shot away but the ball fell for Semenyo to thump home.

Van Dijk then headed against the crossbar from Robertson’s corner, briefly lifting the mood inside Anfield before Alisson provided another moment of panic.

The Brazil goalkeeper mis-placed a pass and then felled Anthony just outside the area as he threatened to race through on goal, his punishment limited to a booking with Konate covering.

The brittle nature of Liverpool’s midfield was seen again in the 25th minute when Marcos Senesi strode out of the Bournemouth defence and simply kept going all the way to the final third, slipping in Solanke who was sandwiched by Robertson and Van Dijk but made no great appeal for a penalty.

Moments later, Liverpool were level. Jota’s ball from the right was slightly behind Diaz after Senesi got a touch, but the Colombian adjusted well to control and then fire home from close range.

The penalty came eight minutes later as Dominik Szoboszlai made the most of a dangling leg left by Joe Rothwell and went down in the corner of the box. Neto saved a relatively tame effort from Salah but the Egyptian was there to finish at the second opportunity, his ninth goal in nine against Bournemouth.

Liverpool looked much more settled in a strong start to the second half as Jota and Salah threatened.

It might have all changed when Mac Allister’s home debut was cut short just before the hour, but if anything a sense of injustice fired Liverpool up.

Endo was waiting to come on for his debut in a midfield reshuffle when Neto could only parry a deflected shot from Szoboszlai and Jota tucked in the rebound.

Endo slotted in well as Liverpool adopted a more conservative approach to see the game out, although Alisson still needed to make a fine late saves from Solanke and Hamed Traore to prevent a more nervous finish to the afternoon.

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