Paul Merson names Liverpool star as one of only two players who would improve England squad

Former footballer turned pundit Paul Merson has named Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk as one of just two European stars who he would pick for England.

Following this weekend's FA Cup action, domestic football pauses for the international break.

The priority for Liverpool fans and Jurgen Klopp will be to see his stars return without injuries, while for several of the players themselves this is the final chance to impress for their country before managers nail down their squads for Euro 2024 in June.

One such player is Joe Gomez, who is set for an England recall after a four-year absence. The 26-year-old will be Liverpool's only representative in the Three Lions' squad this time around, with Trent Alexander-Arnold still recovering from injury.

Competition for places within the England squad is fierce, with the 2020 finalists one of the favourites going into the summer tournament in Germany.

So strong is the current squad, according to Sky pundit Merson, that only Liverpool skipper Van Dijk and PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe would improve it from the other competing nations at Euro 2024.

“No team can live with England over a month of football,” Merson wrote for Sky Sports. “We’ll have players on the bench that would walk into any other team.

“I couldn’t name a European national team that the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish wouldn’t walk into.

Premier League Nottingham Forest v Liverpool Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrates his side s goal to make it 0-1 during the Premier League match Nottingham Forest vs Liverpool at City Ground, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 2nd March 2024 Photo by Gareth Evans/News Images Nottingham City Ground Nottinghamshire United Kingdom Copyright: xGarethxEvans/NewsxImagesx

“If I could pick players from across Europe to put in England’s team, I’m only picking Kylian Mbappe and Virgil van Dijk.”

Van Dijk remains one of the world's finest defenders and has been one of the standout players in the Premier League this season, as the Reds chase success on four fronts.

Other European Reds who would be in contention for England?

The Netherlands captain would be a shoo-in for just about any country on the planet, including England, whose main weakness may well be at centre-back this summer.

However, it's hard not imagine that several others non-English European Reds might also improve Southgate's squad.

Andy Robertson (Scotland) is a stronger and more experienced option than the likes of Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell at left back, while Ibrahima Konate (France), Dominik Szoboszlai (Hungary) and even Caoimhin Kelleher (Ireland) would all surely be in with very strong shouts for inclusion.

Going even further... With Alexander-Arnold injured, who better to deputise than Conor Bradley (Northern Ireland) on the basis of current form at the very least, while the pre-injury strike rate of Diogo Jota (Portugal) would've also put him in the conversation for an attacking berth.

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