Pep Guardiola has sent a heartfelt message to stricken Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk and admits the Premier League will be a poorer place without the Premier League champions’ defensive linchpin for the foreseeable future.
Van Dijk is set to undergo surgery and will likely miss the rest of the season after he suffered a knee ligament injury following a reckless challenge from Jordan Pickford during the early stages of last Saturday’s Merseyside derby.
Guardiola’s Manchester City side’s rivalry with Liverpool has intensified over the course of the last three seasons and Van Dijk’s setback represents a serious blow to their hopes of retaining the title.
Similarly, City were forced to cope without Aymeric Laporte last season after he sustatined a similar injury to Van Dijk’s and Guardiola refsused to consider the 29-year-old’s blow as a boost to his own objectives.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League clash against Porto, he said: ‘I cannot speak about how it will affect Liverpool. Jurgen can talk about this.
‘We wish him to get well soon and have a good recovery. I don’t like opponents losing important players for a long time.
‘I don’t know him but he looks strong so he’s going to come back well. We’ll wait for him to come back – the Premier League is better with good players and he is one of the best.
City, meanwhile, got their league campaign back on track last weekend with a narrow 1-0 win over Arsenal. Guardiola’s side coped admirably without both Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne, and the former Barcelona coach is hopeful his key duo will return imminently.
‘Gabriel (Jesus), Kevin and Aymeric are expected back in the next weeks,’ he confirmed.