Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was right to be concerned about Virgil van Dijk’s injury after the Merseyside derby as the defender has been ruled out for the season after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage.
The grade three tear that Van Dijk has suffered – which was revealed during a scan on Saturday night – will require surgery to be corrected but Liverpool do not have a date for when the operation will be performed. For that reason, they will not put a timeframe on his recovery program.
What is clear, though, is that Liverpool’s hopes of retaining their Premier League title and regaining the Champions League will be much more difficult without Van Dijk, whose performances since he signed in January 2018 have made him the best central defender in world football.
Van Dijk has missed just one Premier League game since joining Liverpool. His two full seasons brought a total of 196 points – they racked up 97 as they finished runners-up to Manchester City in 2018-19, then finished on 99 last season as they won the title by 18 points.
The 2018-19 season ended with two personal awards for Van Dijk – he was the PFA Player of the Year in England, as well as the first defender to pick up Uefa’s Player of the Year award.
He played all 38 Premier League games that season as Liverpool conceded just 22 goals – the lowest number in any of Europe’s top six leagues that season. Last season, they conceded 33, again the lowest in the English top flight.
In Van Dijk’s 95 Premier League starts for Liverpool, they have conceded just 78 goals and kept 44 clean sheets.
By comparison, in the 95 league games before his debut, they let in 117 goals and shut out the opposition 29 times.
Posting on social media over the weekend, van Dijk said:
“I’m ready for the challenge ahead.”
“I’m now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as soon as possible.”
“Despite the obvious disappointment, I’m a firm believer that within difficulty lies opportunity, and with God’s help I’m going to make sure I return better, fitter and stronger than ever before.
“In football, as in life, I think everything happens for a reason and it’s important to try and keep level-headed whether going through the highs and lows.”