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The title race is wide open, says Carragher after Van Dijk suffered a devastating knee ligament injury

Liverpool must sign a new center in January after a knee injury to Virgil van Dijk, says Jamie Carragher … while saying it has blown the title race ‘wide open’.

  • Graeme Souness said Van Dijk was the ‘only player you don’t want to lose’
  • The 29-year-old was eliminated by Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby
  • He had to leave after 11 minutes and is at the door for months while he prepares for surgery

Jamie Carragher believes the title race has been blown ‘wide open’ after news that Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk will need surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligament damage sustained in Saturday’s dramatic 2-2 draw against neighbors Everton.

The 29-year-old was one of the Reds’ key figures last season when they ended a 30-year title drought and ended up 18 points ahead of Manchester City.

However, he was forced out at Goodison Park after 11 minutes after being on the receiving end of a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford, who escaped penalty because the Dutchman was offside but still managed to get a retroactive ban.

Virgil van Dijk was beaten by Jordan Pickford shortly after Liverpool took the lead

Virgil van Dijk was beaten by Jordan Pickford shortly after Liverpool took the lead

Jurgen Klopp said afterwards that Van Dijk’s injury was ‘not good’ and scans on Sunday confirmed the extent of the damage.

No timetable has been set for Van Dijk’s recovery, but he is expected to be ruled out for the rest of the season.

Carragher said on Sky Sports that the bombshell news means a new center-back should be a priority for Liverpool once the winter transfer window opens in January.

The big question is: can Liverpool win the league without Van Dijk there? Each team has three or four players on each title-winning team, and if any of those players are missing, no matter how good your manager is, no matter how big your team is, you can’t cover them.

Jamie Carragher feels that Liverpool should make a center-back a priority in January

Jamie Carragher feels that Liverpool should make a center-back a priority in January

Jamie Carragher feels that Liverpool should make a center-back a priority in January

‘I think it blows open the title race. I had a feeling at the start of the season that Liverpool were the team to beat and with Van Dijk now facing the whole season I think everything is going well for Liverpool.

‘Liverpool must certainly enter the market in January, not only because of Van Dijk’s injury. They were weak in that area anyway – they had lost Lovren before the start of the season – and the other players in those positions are very vulnerable to injury.

‘For Liverpool it is immediately: who can we join? I know the transfer window has just ended, but they have to be ready by January to bring someone in. It could stop achieving what they want to achieve. ‘

Graeme Souness says Van Dijk is more important to Liverpool than Mo Salah and Sadio Mane

Graeme Souness says Van Dijk is more important to Liverpool than Mo Salah and Sadio Mane

Graeme Souness says Van Dijk is more important to Liverpool than Mo Salah and Sadio Mane

Fellow pundit Graeme Souness, who clashed with Carragher over Pickford’s role in the incident, believes Liverpool have lost their main player.

“ If you asked me at the start of the season who is the only player you don’t want to miss for a big part of the season, people could say Sadio Mane, people could say Mohamed Salah. For me it is Van Dijk, ‘said the Scot.

Liverpool still have enough goals in the squad to do without either of those two [Salah and Mane], but at the back he is [Van Dijk’s] the catalyst for everything they do.

Jurgen Klopp's men have to recover quickly on Wednesday, as they play Ajax in the Champions League

Jurgen Klopp's men have to recover quickly on Wednesday, as they play Ajax in the Champions League

Jurgen Klopp’s men have to recover quickly on Wednesday, as they play Ajax in the Champions League

From getting up from the field to holding the line when it’s the right time to hold it, to dropping off at the right time to deliver. It’s a big blow. It’s the last thing Liverpool needed. ‘

Liverpool’s season has already been hampered by Covid-19, with Thiago Alcantara, Sadio Mane, Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita all testing positive for the virus over the past three weeks.

Jurgen Klopp’s men open their Champions League when they compete against Ajax on Wednesday in Amsterdam.

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