Ian Wright believes Virgil van Dijk’s ACL tear could be as significant as the knee injury Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte suffered last season and says it comes as a ‘massive blow’ to a Liverpool side looking to defend the Premier League title.
Van Dijk hobbled off the pitch after a horror challenge from Jordan Pickford in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Everton on Saturday and will be sidelined for several months after it was confirmed the Dutchman will have to undergo surgery.
It means Liverpool’s fate will likely rest on the shoulders of Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and makeshift centre-back Fabinho this campaign.
The Reds are also having to cope with the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Alisson and summer signing Thiago Alcantara was also forced off in the Merseyside derby with a knee problem.
‘It’s a massive blow,’ Wright said while discussing Van Dijk’s injury.
‘I think you saw with the corner because I think Virgil van Dijk would be in that position.
‘I don’t think Michael Keane gets such an easy header so we’re seeing it not even an hour later how he’s going to be missed by that team.
‘He’s a massive cog in that wheel so with Alisson not playing, we don’t know what’s happening with Thiago, that is a Liverpool side – still a very good side – but a Liverpool side that you’re more comfortable playing against.’
Asked whether it’s comparable to the Laporte scenario at Manchester City last season, Wright replied: ‘Absolutely.’
Van Dijk vowed to return stronger than ever from the injury in a defiant message on Instagram on Sunday evening.
The Netherlands international said: ‘This afternoon I met with a leading consultant to start the process of planning the finer details of my rehabilitation following the incident yesterday.
‘I’m not fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible.
‘Despite the obvious disappointment, I am a full believer that within difficulty lies opportunity and with God’s help I am going to make sure I return better, fitter and stronger than ever before.
‘In football as in life, I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s important to keep level-headed, whether going through the highs or the lows.
‘I would like to think everyone for the messages of support, it’s meant a huge amount to me and my family and I’ll now be doing everything possible to support my team-mates in anyway I can ahead of a big few weeks ahead as I take my own recovery day-by-day. I’ll be back’.