Liverpool players have been left ‘devastated’ by the Virgil van Dijk injury news, as their defensive leader and talisman is expected to be out for the rest of the 2020-21 season as he undergoes knee surgery.
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The reigning Premier League champions face Ajax on Wednesday in Amsterdam (start time, 3pm ET) in their Champions League group stage opener, as they will embark on their first game without Van Dijk.
Speaking ahead of that game, Jurgen Klopp and his players were far from happy.
Liverpool players can’t sleep after awful Virgil van Dijk injury news
Georginio Wijnaldum, a close friend of Virgil van Dijk and teammate at Liverpool and with the Netherlands, wasn’t happy with the challenge from Jordan Pickford and the emotions are still raw.
“First of all we are all still devastated. This was a different than normal. The way it happened was really hard for us. I think everyone still has a really bad feeling about it. When we were speaking with the lads after Saturday, none of the players slept because of what happened with Virgil and the way it happened. It is really hard. A hard one to take for the team,” Wijnaldum said.
Jurgen Klopp followed up by agreeing with everything that Wijnaldum said and was extremely prickly with the media, as he admitted they are ‘sensitive’ with the situation.
“A couple of days ago something happened which should not have had happened. I see it similar to my players. Both challenges were difficult to accept,” Klopp said. “What we all can do is to change these kind of things. It is really hard for us. Virgil is our boy and it is not just about his quality as a player. Injuries happen in football. Very often when both players challenge for the ball. In the last four years we were the leader of the fair play table. It means you don’t get anything for that. People often make a joke about it. That means you can play football without these kind of challenges.”
Wijnaldum hits out at ‘unacceptable’ Everton, Pickford
Asked further about the tackle from Pickford, Wijnaldum didn’t hold back as he slammed Everton and their reckless tackles during the feisty 2-2 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.
“Of course we are upset, the way Pickford went in was completely, in my opinion, stupid. I believe he didn’t want to injure Virgil the way he injured him. The way he took the tackle, he didn’t care about what happened after the tackle. I think we had it a lot in games against Everton. My opinion is that they take it way too far in the games we play against them,” Wijnaldum said.
“We know it is a derby. Everybody wants to win that derby. Sometimes you go a little bit over the top and it was too much. It was not only his tackle but if we talk about the tackle from Richarlison on Thiago. It was also a nasty one. That is what bothered me the most, and most of the other players. Accidents can always happen in football. You can be unlucky. The way they were doing it was completely unacceptable and it makes it harder that they didn’t get punished after seeing the videos.”
What now for Liverpool without Virgil van Dijk?
Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are now Liverpool’s only two fit senior center backs for the rest of the season as reports suggest they may buy a new defender in January.
Fabinho can play at center back to help out Liverpool, but there’s no doubting they cannot replace Virgil van Dijk.
“It is up to us to show that we can still put in a good performance without Virgil. It is a situation we didn’t dealt with before but that’s what we have to do right now,” Wijnaldum said.