Last weekend’s thrilling Merseyside Derby saw the defensive phenom injured by a reckless tackle from Everton and England number one, Jordan Pickford.
Pickford is a player who’s been likened to an ‘accident waiting to happen’ for every brilliant save he pulls off a catastrophic blunder follows.
In this instance, the unfortunate victim of his blunder was Virgil Van Dijk. A rash challenge on Van Dijk that didn’t even receive a yellow card due to VAR ruling Van Dijk offside before the challenge was made.
It is fair to say that his injury is a massive blow to Liverpool and the Netherlands. For Liverpool, this blows the title race wide open.
Van Dijk steadied the ship for the defensively fragile Liverpool and his absence could allow creeping errors back into the squad which can cost Liverpool vital points.
The challenge wasn’t pretty and anyone that watched the replay could instantly tell this was bad news.
Van Dijk is touted as one of the best defenders in the world and within the last 2 years, he certainly had the CV to back it up. From a Champions League winner, the first Barclays Premier League winner for Liverpool and a runner up for the Nations Cup for the Netherlands he is no stranger to success. In all those campaigns he has been a pivotal player in tightening the defence.
Individually he is smart, tactically aware, strong, passes the ball well and carries enough pace to deter any mercurial threat.
In partnerships, he’s able to snuff out danger but also cover for any of his defensive partner’s mistakes.
Liverpool will have to buy another centre back in the January transfer window with Van Dijk’s injury set to keep him sidelined for a while. Unfortunately, whoever they can buy at won’t be good enough to fill his shoes.
The Premier League is in a volatile state right now with the big teams not performing to the standards we expect so the league is up for grabs.
As for the Netherlands, they have lost their captain and leader. Virgil Van Dijk is a massive figure in that dressing room and provides seniority for the players in a National Team that is rebuilding and trying to find its identity. It is going to be very hard to replace him.
Although they have De Ligt and De Vrij at their disposal alongside Daley Blind it probably won’t be enough for the Euro’s next year.
Coupled with Frank De Boer who isn’t a very promising manager the defensive frailties that the Netherlands have surely will exacerbate now.
Both teams will have to rally together to fill in for a massive Van Dijk sized hole. Only time will tell of who can weather the storm.