Virgil van Dijk Says 'The Goals Will Come' for 'World Class' Mohamed Salah

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool  looks on during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage on March 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is confident his team-mate Mohamed Salah will rediscover his scoring touch again after his goal drought continued in their 2-1 win over Fulham on Sunday. 

By drawing a blank once again at Craven Cottage, Salah extended his goalless run to seven matches in all competitions.

Per Goal's Jamie Smith, Van Dijk said:

"Mo is a world-class player. People can say all they want, but I think all the teams in the Premier League would love to have him in their side. We have him, and I think he is playing well.

"The goals will come. That's something for a striker that is maybe going to be in your head, but we tell him every time: you just need to keep working, keep going and you will be fine.

"He's still scored plenty of goals for us, to be fair, so it's not like two—like me! It is like this."

Sadio Mane opened the scoring against the Premier League relegation candidates, and James Milner won it for the Reds from the penalty spot late on after Ryan Babel had equalised against his former side.

Salah joined from Roma in 2017 and enjoyed a phenomenal debut season at Anfield, scoring 44 goals in all competitions.

This season he's scored 20, which is still enough to make it the second-most prolific campaign of his career, but he's found the net just once in Liverpool's last 10 games.

Football writer Kristian Walsh speculated the extra attention he receives from defenders hinders his effectiveness but creates more opportunities for team-mates like Mane:

Kristian Walsh @Kristian_Walsh

You could argue Mane is having his best-ever season because the opposition are so preoccupied with Salah, a lot of their focus falls upon Liverpool’s right-hand side, therefore giving Mane more time and space. This is not a scientific hypothesis.

Per data analysts Laurie Shaw and Dan Kennett, the numbers would support that theory:

Dan Kennett @DanKennett

@EightyFivePoint Definitely. The most important thing is that total goals across the front 3 is almost identical this season and last.

Sports scientist and coach Simon Brundish suggested another factor behind Salah's drop-off:

SimonBrundish @SimonBrundish

Any possibility Salah is just tired? Played 800 mins > Bobby and Mané On for the most mins in a season in his career by 37% all the while making more sprints per90 than anyone in the league

It could be a combination of those factors. Although it's clear the Egyptian has been far from his best in recent weeks, he has still been contributing.

While he was not credited with an assist for either, he played a key role in two of the Reds' goals in their 4-2 win over Burnley earlier in March.

In Liverpool's following game, the 3-1 victory over Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, he set up Mane's second goal (U.S. and UK only, respectively):

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Messi or Salah: Who had the assist of the day? 🧐 https://t.co/Cxh7qk8gIl

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

Sadio Mané bags his second! The ball from Mo Salah 🤤 https://t.co/wdUm6B45Tb

Still, the Reds could do with him returning to form for the business end of the season. 

It's no coincidence that in the last 10 games, the Reds have been held to five draws, three of them goalless.

Liverpool are two points ahead of Manchester City in the league, but the Sky Blues have an extra game to play, and they'll face Porto in the quarter-final of the Champions League.

To maximise their chances of winning either trophy this season, they need Salah firing on all cylinders.