Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender facing surgery and the pressure is now on Joe Gomez and Joel Matip

Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender facing surgery and the pressure is now on Joe Gomez and Joel Matip

Liverpool are stepping into the unknown. For 80 minutes at Goodison Park on Saturday, there was a rare sight: Liverpool playing a Premier League match without Virgil van Dijk at the heart of their defence. Jordan Pickford's brutal - but unpunished - challenge, which has left Van Dijk needing surgery on his knee, means it is something Liverpool will now have to get used to. But how will they cope without their star centre-back? The brilliant Dutchman has played in 95 of the 96 Premier League games Liverpool have had since he made his debut in January 2018. He played every minute in the league last season, as they claimed the title for the first time in 30 years. So how do they try to cover the absence of a player who has been central to their triumphs domestically and in Europe over the past three years? It is a huge task and, with Premier League and Champions League games coming thick and fast, it is a task Jurgen Klopp must get right if Liverpool are to continue to be successful. That is how pivotal Van Dijk has been. Critics who suggested the £75m fee Liverpool paid Southampton for Van Dijk was extortionate have long since conceded their case in that argument. Van Dijk has, if anything, been a bargain for Liverpool, transforming their defence and providing the platform for the Reds to become arguably the best side in Europe. Liverpool had let in 120 goals in their 96 Premier League fixtures before he arrived. They ...
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