Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah was among those to send their well wishes to Virgil van Dijk after it was revealed the Reds defender faces a fight to play again this season after an anterior cruciate ligament rupture.
The Dutchman is thought to have suffered a grade three tear in the 2-2 Merseyside derby draw with Everton in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
Van Dijk was on the end of a nasty Jordan Pickford challenge which left him unable to continue and though he walked off the pitch, he faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The England goalkeeper somehow escaped a red card for serious foul play despite VAR reviewing the incident.
Liverpool said in a statement: “No specific timescale is being placed upon his return to action at this stage.
“Following surgery, Van Dijk will begin a rehabilitation programme with the club’s medical team to enable him to reach full fitness as soon as possible.”
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The 29-year-old was seen by a specialist on Sunday after undergoing scans on Saturday, which have revealed the worst possible news for the Premier League champions.
Former PFA Players’ Player of the Year Van Dijk faces a battle to play again in the 2020-21 campaign with a grade three ACL tear ruling players out for anything between six to 12 months.
And among those to react to the news was Liverpool wide-man Salah, who tweeted: “I wish you a speedy recovery big man.”
On Liverpool’s official Instagram post announcing the news, former centre-back Sami Hyypia replied: “Get well soon big man!”
While former attacker Luis Garcia commented: “Sad news. Have a good recovery mate.”
And Liverpool women’s winger Rinsola Babajide said: “Gutted. Speedy recovery.”
The setback could blow this season’s title race wide open given Van Dijk’s importance to Jurgen Klopp’s team.
The Netherlands international was a crucial member of the Reds’ Champions League and Premier League triumphs in the past two campaigns.
He has missed just one of 96 English top-flight games since signing from Southampton for a club-record £75million fee in January 2018.
Klopp will hope that Joel Matip can stay fit to help replace Van Dijk alongside Joe Gomez, while Fabinho could also be used more often in central defence from now on.
Behind those three, Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio are further options although neither boast much first-team experience.
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