Virgil van Dijk’s knee injury could “perhaps be worse than initially feared”, a leading journalist has claimed.
The talismanic Liverpool defender has torn his ACL and now faces several months on the sidelines.
It comes as another blow to Liverpool, who are already without first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker due to injury. Alisson and Van Dijk are widely regarded as the two signings that turned Liverpool into title winners.
Until Saturday, Van Dijk had an near-faultless injury record while at Liverpool. The towering Dutchman has started the last 94 Premier League matches. He is a hugely influential figure in their defence and dressing room. A captain in everything but name.
Reports have suggested Van Dijk could return before the end of the campaign. With the delayed European Championships next summer, Holland will certainly be hoping that is the case.
Liverpool will also hope Van Dijk could return in time for the run-in.
But while Liverpool are not putting a timescale on his recovery, the Reds have been linked with several replacements.
However, optimism that Van Dijk could be back sooner rather than later has been tempered by The Athletic journalist David Ornstein.
He has stated that the Dutchman’s recovery may be further away than originally claimed.
“It’s my understanding – and I stress, that’s just my information, it’s not official – that the damage to Virgil van Dijk’s right knee is perhaps worse than initially feared and extends beyond the ACL,” he told the Tifo Football podcast.
“I’m no medical expert so it’s unfair to speculate further or give greater detail. But I did want to pass it on and it would indicate that we won’t see Van Dijk back on a pitch until next season.
“He will now undergo surgery – exactly when we don’t know, that’s a decision for Van Dijk and those around him. But through Liverpool and the Dutch national team they’ll have access to some of the best medics in the world. I’m sure he’s in perfectly good hands.”
Ornstein on Liverpool transfer plans
The latest name linked with Liverpool is Ben White, though the Brighton man has an exorbitant price tag on his head.
And Ornstein claims that while Liverpool are yet to decide on a signing, he admits they could delve into the January market.
“The big question is how Liverpool react, with many eyes already on the January transfer window. As far as I know, that level of conversation is yet to take place internally,” Ornstein said.
“They won’t make a snap call on the matter. They’re not ruling out a January signing but as things stand I don’t sense it’s likely. January is always a tricky market: prices are high; availability low.
“We don’t know what finances Liverpool would have at their disposal. A player coming in would need time to adapt. They also wouldn’t just have to be at Liverpool’s level, they need to be an improvement on what the club already have.
“Liverpool aren’t normally a chequebook club in this case. They don’t tend to throw money at these sorts of problems. Yes, they signed Van Dijk himself and Alisson for big money, but we’d all agree that they were needed and it was money extremely well spent.
“From what I hear, Jurgen Klopp would prefer to rely on internal resources in this case.”