Virgil van Dijk suffers ACL damage in major blow to Liverpool

Liverpool’s ambitions of retaining their Premier League title have suffered a sizeable blow with Virgil van Dijk requiring surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligament damage.

The centre-back was injured by a reckless, unpunished challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the sixth minute of the 2-2 Merseyside derby draw at Goodison Park.

A scan as well as a second consultation confirmed the champions’ worst fears that their defensive lynchpin will now spend between six to nine months on the sidelines depending on his recovery process.

Club sources are reluctant to rule out a return to action this season.

Van Dijk had played every minute of the 74 league games prior to being forced off the pitch on Saturday, a spell stretching back to his substitution in the 3-0 home win over Southampton in September 2018.

The 29-year-old has been transformative for Liverpool and a core reason for their Champions League triumph last year and the club’s ending of a 30-year title drought.

Jurgen Klopp is already without goalkeeper Alisson in his rearguard and the current situation will prompt him to assess whether to fortify the backline in the January window. Van Dijk, however, is irreplaceable.

Liverpool have requested a review into the application of VAR during the Merseyside derby from the Premier League after Pickford escaped without a red card – or even a caution – following the aggressive, horrendous scissor challenge on van Dijk.

Both of the keeper’s legs wrapped around the defender, with the left one banging into the Dutchman’s right knee.

It was established that the VAR, David Coote, reviewed the incident to check for a possible penalty or whether Van Dijk was offside, which he was judged to marginally be, but there was no check for a red card.

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