Virgil van Dijk says return of Liverpool and opposition fans would benefit team

Virgil van Dijk says he misses playing in front of Liverpool and opposition fans – because both provide motivation for the team.

Premier League football has been played behind closed doors since mid-March, with fans prevented from entering stadiums amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus outbreak meant Liverpool were forced to celebrate their first league title in 30 years at an empty Anfield over the summer, lifting the trophy merely in front of their friends and families.

It remains to be seen when spectators can begin attending top-flight fixtures again, although the recent second wave of Covid-19 cases in the UK will only delay their return.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk is desperate to see fans back in stadiums across the country, insisting both their own and opposition supporters can lift the team’s performance.

“The fans can play a massive part in difficult times during games and also at good times in games,” he told Eddie Hearn's 'No Passion No Point' podcast on BBC Sounds.

“When you concede the fans will lift you and when you score they make the opponent go further away from you.

“It's the same case for everyone, but for us in particular everyone knows how difficult it is to play at Anfield with the fans behind us. Hopefully, things can change as soon as possible because we need fans.

“It lifts our performances at home but when you play away and the home fans turn against you – I like that.

“It gives you that motivation sometimes to do better. It's something I definitely enjoy and that I miss.”

Liverpool slumped to their first defeat of the season on Sunday, suffering an astonishing 7-2 defeat away at Aston Villa.

Van Dijk admits staying at the top is a difficult task, but the 29-year-old is determined to keep giving everything until he retires.

“I think trying to stay at the top is the hardest thing to do,” he said. “Everyone wants to see you fall when you reach the top.

“That is what life is about, especially these days. For me, I want to give everything I have got until I retire and then have no regrets after.

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“I don't want any regrets afterwards, I think that would be the worst feeling you can have. It is going to be challenging times coming up. We are champions – something that took a while.

“We should enjoy the moment and go for it.”

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