Liverpool defender and Netherlands captain Virgil Van Dijk will undergo surgery on his right knee to repair ligaments damaged during the stalemate Merseyside derby. The Dutch defender had to abandon the match against him Everton in the 5th minute after a dangerous tackle from Jordan Pickford that he left without penalty for having the action canceled for offside.
“The centre-back damaged knee ligaments following an incident involving Blues goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after six minutes at Goodison Park,” Liverpool confirmed in a statement after the match. “Van Dijk was required to be substituted and further assessment on the injury has revealed an operation will be needed. No specific timescale is being placed upon his return to action at this stage.”
Although Van Dijk was able to walk off the pitch following the initial treatment by the Liverpool physiotherapist, follow-up scans confirmed that he suffered cruciate ligament damage in the incident and, as a result, faces months on the sideline. The 29-year-old is also at risk of missing upcoming international duties and possibly the delayed Euro 2020 next June.
Last week, Netherlands continued their UEFA Nations League campaign with a trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina that ended in a goalless draw. The result left the Dutch, who were runners-up in the inaugural Nations League, with four points from three games while Bosnia has two. New Netherlands coach Frank de Boer is still awaiting a first win after a home loss to Mexico in a friendly also last week.
Van Dijk led Netherlands to Euro 2020 qualification 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 coming third at the 2014 World Cup.
Meanwhile, the club has yet to set a date for Van Dijk’s surgery, but the statement confirmed that “Van Dijk will begin a rehabilitation program with the club’s medical team to enable him to reach full fitness as soon as possible.” Pickford, goalkeeper of the Everton, will not be sanctioned for the dangerous action with Liverpool’s £75 million worth player.
Van Dijk, in a statement released on social media, said: “I’m now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible. Despite the obvious disappointment, I’m a firm believer that within difficulty lies opportunity,” he continued, adding: “I’m going to make sure I return better, fitter and stronger than ever before.”