There is no shame in suffering a Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid, their recent European nemeses, but the manner in which they surrendered over two legs – a 5-2 defeat at home followed by a 1-0 loss in the Bernabeu – without much of a fight was concerning for a side with such a good pedigree.
Half-a-dozen players’ contracts are coming to an end in the summer and, while the rejuvenation of the forward line has already started with the acquisitions of Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo in the last 10 months, there is significant work to do elsewhere.
Midfield is in desperate need of an overhaul – Borussia Dortmund’s England international Jude Bellingham remains their top priority – while defence is also likely to require attention either in the coming window or the next.
“Obviously players are going to leave. That’s obviously been announced so we have to, if we want to be where we have been the last five years, we need quality imports, especially with those players leaving,” said defender Van Dijk.
“I think that’s quite obvious but everyone knows that’s going to be very difficult.
“It is going to be very difficult to find the right players but the club has to do their job in this case.
“We still have a lot of games to play for us and we want to be in the Champions League. I think that will also help to attract the best players in the world. Not all the time but it will definitely help.”
Liverpool, however, will have to wait to erase the disappointment of their European exit.
The international break, having been knocked out of the FA Cup, means they will not play again until next month when they make the trip to long-term Premier League rivals Manchester City.
Compressed in the space of a few days they must also go to Chelsea before hosting leaders Arsenal.
“It’s going to be very defining and that’s something we all know,” said Van Dijk of the forthcoming fixtures.
“It’s been a season that we can’t find the consistency that we have had for the last few years but the only way to get it back is to get it back with each and every game.
“It sounds very simple but it’s the most difficult part of football and the most difficult part of being a footballer is to stay consistent.
“We will give it absolutely everything because I want to play in the Champions League, we all want to play in the Champions League. The fans want to play in the Champions League.
“We are the players on the pitch, we have to perform and we have to show it but we need also our fans.
“They have stuck with us in the good times and we need them probably even more in this time. We will fight and we will see good results also.”