Liverpool’s worst fears were realised on Sunday when it was confirmed that Virgil van Dijk had suffered an ACL injury in the Merseyside derby against Everton.
The centre-back is facing months on the sidelines after suffering a grade three ACL tear following a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Van Dijk was instrumental in Liverpool’s Champions League and Premier League triumphs. Without him, their task of defending their title is significantly more difficult.
Adding to Liverpool’s frustrations is the lack of action taken against Pickford, who avoided a red card.
It has since been revealed by the Daily Mail that the VAR for Saturday’s game, David Coote, wasn’t aware that he could send the Everton ‘keeper off because he thought Van Dijk’s offside nullified what happened afterwards.
“It’s hard for us as Virgil is our boy,” Jurgen Klopp admitted ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League game against Ajax, per Sky Sports.
“It is difficult to take because the referee doesn't see it.
"Michael Oliver is an excellent referee but he had the best view. Then VAR forgets the rules.
“As a human, I don't want to see Everton players punished, but we all agree if you do something wrong, you have to deal with consequences.”
Liverpool players struggling to sleep
Van Dijk’s absence will be felt. His injury has had a profound impact on his teammates, with Georginio Wijnaldum admitting that the players are devastated.
The Reds’ midfielder even admitted that players are struggling to sleep after learning of the extent of Van Dijk’s injury.
“We're still devastated. This was different than normal," Wijnaldum said, per the Mirror. "The way it happened was really hard for us, and everyone still has a really bad feeling about it.
"None of the players slept. It's a hard one to take and it was a hard one for the team."
That’s not really something that Liverpool fans will want to hear.
Van Dijk is arguably Liverpool’s most important player, but the Reds have players capable of stepping up in his absence.
If there’s any belief that those players can’t get the job done then it’s hard to imagine Liverpool defending their title.
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