Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp ruled out hopes of Virgil van Dijk playing for the Netherlands at the Euro 2020 football matches, saying that “nobody should force it and nobody will”. In October, van Dijk suffered knee ligament damage, which required surgery, in the stalemate Merseyside derby after a dangerous tackle from Jordan Pickford.
The 29-year-old led Netherlands to an impressive Euro 2020 result last year and ended their self-inflicted exile from major tournament football, having failed to reach Euro 2016 or last year’s World Cup. In a 0-0 draw away to Northern Ireland, the Dutch team secured a top-two finish in Group C. They needed just a draw to guarantee a spot at its first international tournament since the 2014 World Cup.
In an interview, Klopp insisted the center-back will likely need the more time to get himself back to full fitness. “Virgil’s knee. Look, I don’t want to hold Virgil back but you can’t force it as well,” Klopp said. “You are all long enough in the business to know that if you want to play you have to train before – and proper football training. It takes weeks. Not a week before.”
The Dutch center back posted a video on his social media accounts of himself doing some light jogging . “You cannot be out for ten or 11 months, train for one week and then play football. That is not possible, it should not be possible,” Klopp added. The Reds’ boss also pleaded that he will not force Van Dijk to the pitch unless he is already fit to play.
“No one is holding Virgil back. I can promise all the people in Holland that we cannot force it, and we will not. We speak about a player and his career, so nobody should force it and nobody will. Not Holland, not us and not Virgil as well. It’s just about getting as fit as possible,” he said. The 29-year-old has made only eight appearances for the Reds this season, last featuring in the Merseyside derby clash.
“In the moment, nobody knows when that will be exactly but you can imagine it will be for sure very, very tight with the Euros and the team training and stuff like this because he is not in team training yet and will not be in the next weeks. So, I don’t know,” Klopp added. “But in the end it’s a decision of Virgil and he will get massively influenced by the feeling in his knee.”
Earlier, Netherlands manager Frank de Boer was hopeful that the Dutch captain could feature at the Euros in June: “It’s going to be close for Virgil. He is working with so much energy. If you see what he does. In my time, you were only allowed to kick in the pool,” De Boer said. Van Dijk helped the Oranje win six of their eight games of their qualifying campaign, two points behind Germany at the top.
According to earlier reports, the Anfield side have already told Holland’s national squad that their skipper will not play in the continental tournament unless he plays for the Reds before the end of the campaign. This is contradictory to FIFA’s rules but Dutch chiefs understand they would face big compensation demands if the defender was injured on duty without playing in red first.
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