Virgil van Dijk: Why the Netherlands’ loss is Liverpool’s gain
Virgil van Dijk has confirmed that he won’t be part of the Netherlands squad for the upcoming European Championship.
The Liverpool defender has been out of action since sustaining rupturing his anterior cruciate knee ligament during an October meeting with Everton.
And, as he continues his rehabilitation, he has elected not to make himself available to Frank de Boer this summer.
Explaining the decision, he said : “With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I’ve decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season.
“So, the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that’s a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that.”
It is heartbreak for a player who has still to represent his country at the finals of a major tournament.
Van Dijk was an uncapped Celtic player when the Dutch qualified for the 2014 World Cup, going on to finish in third place in Brazil.
And, though he has since established himself as one the finest defenders in world football, the Netherlands missed out on a place at the susbequent Euros and World Cup.
They put things right in securing their place at this summer’s finals, but now must compete without their star man and captain.
Liverpool to benefit
Of course, Holland’s loss in, in some ways, Liverpool’s gain.
Jurgen Klopp revealed on Wednesday that he remains hopeful of having his talismanic centre-back back in the fold by the start of pre-season.
He said: “With Virgil, it’s one of the most serious injuries you can get. I don’t know exactly how it came up that he has a chance for the Euros because the injury he had, people say it can take 11 months. It happened in October, that would mean September.
“We all hope, because it’s going really well, and we are all individuals and react differently in specific moments – the plan for us is that he can start the pre-season with us, but even that is not sure.”
His availability will also provide much-needed certainty for Klopp, who is already set to be forced to juggle his squad across the course of next term.
It remains possible that Mohamed Salah could miss the entire pre-season period in order to take part in the Olympics with Egypt, while prospective signing Ibrahima Konate could also be part of the France squad for that competition.
What’s more, Salah is certain to be joined by Sadio Mane and Naby Keita in heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations in the middle of the season.
As such, having the defensive rock whose absence has been so keenly felt this campaign available during those difficult periods would be a major boost for Liverpool.