Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has ruled himself out of captaining and playing for the Netherlands at Euro 2020 football matches this summer as he chose to focus on recovery from an injury that has kept him out for more than seven months. The 29-year-old has been sidelined with an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury, which required surgery, since last October.
“I have come to a decision that I had to make, would I be involved in the Euros, yes or no?” Van Dijk told the club’s website. “With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I’ve decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season. So, the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that’s a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that.”
The 29-year-old led Netherlands to an impressive Euro 2020 result in 2019 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.
“Obviously I am very gutted to miss the Euros, to miss the European Championship and leading out my own country there,” he added. But things have been like they have and I have to accept it – we all have to accept it. I think the decision to not go is the right decision in the grand scheme of things. It’s tough, but I’m at peace with it.” Van Dijk will continue training on a daily basis at Kirkby to be fit in time.
Liverpool suffered their first title defense with 57 points from 34 games and sitting sixth in the league table, owing it to multiple injuries among their star player including Van Dijk. With five games still to play, the Reds are at risk of missing out on European football next season. The 2021-22 Premier League campaign is scheduled to begin on August 14.
With the number of squad increased to 26, the Dutch head coach Frank de Boer De Boer has plenty of other options to take over Van Dijk’s place in defense, with with Inter’s Stefan de Vrij, Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt, Manchester City’s Nathan Ake and possibly Ajax defender Daley Blind. Netherland will start their Euro 2020 journey on June 13 against Ukraine in Amsterdam.
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