Jordan Henderson has revealed that Virgil van Dijk sent an ‘inspirational and upbeat’ message to the rest of Liverpool’s squad after his devastating knee injury and predicts the defender will return stronger from the experience.
Van Dijk limped out of last weekend’s Merseyside derby after a horror challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and subsequent scans showed the Dutchman must undergo surgery and will be out of action for several months.
As a result, Jurgen Klopp will have to depend heavily on Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and makeshift centre-half Fabinho this season and Henderson admits losing the ‘best defender in the world’ came as a crushing blow to Liverpool.
‘As was said most of last week, he’s the best defender in the world. Of course he is,’ the Liverpool captain said in the club’s matchday programme for their clash with Sheffield United.
‘I think I’d go further and say he’s in the running for the best player in the world, regardless of position.
‘It was typical of Virgil that after digesting the news, one of the first messages he sent to us – all of us – was upbeat and inspirational.
‘The exact content will, of course, remain private, but there wasn’t one word in there feeling sorry for himself. It was all about looking ahead and making sure he comes back better and stronger.
‘Likewise when he came to Melwood on Tuesday he just radiated positivity.
‘That’s the big man. And it’s on us to take his lead and only think about the positive impact we can all have from this moment on.
‘Virgil will back with us in no time at all, I’m sure. Because he is such an extraordinary professional I know he will come back not just as good but better.
‘He’s the sort of character who will use the time out to learn and develop. But while we wait for him we don’t stop.’
Speaking after Liverpool’s victory over Ajax, Georginio Wijnaldum revealed that his fellow countryman had sent a group message to his team-mates to wish them good luck in the Champions League tie.
‘He wished us good luck in the group chat on WhatsApp,’ the Liverpool and Netherlands midfielder said.
‘For me, I don’t think it’s really the right time to speak to Virgil about football because football is not that important.
‘I think for him and for me when we speak with each other, the most important thing is his personal life, his rehab and those things.’
‘Those are the conversations that we’ve had right now.
‘It might change in a few months because then he’s further along in his rehab.
‘But for now it’s not the right time to speak about football with Virgil.’