Since joining in January 2018 for a £ 75 million club record, Virgil van Dijk has been simply unflappable in his form and fitness. But that would be about to change.
Following a shocking tackle from Jordan Pickford on Saturday in a controversial Merseyside Derby – which went unpunished – the Liverpool center-back sustained a possible seasonal knee injury.
Liverpool were unhappy yesterday with rumors that Van Dijk could miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury, but there is no doubt the injury is serious as the Netherlands captain will miss at least several weeks.
Virgil van Dijk sustained an injury against Everton after a horror challenge from Jordan Pickford
The central defender of Liverpool will miss a long period after the knock on Saturday
As Jurgen Klopp emphasized afterwards: ‘Virg plays with pain and he never misses a match. I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t look right. ‘
So, should the worst-case scenario materialize for the Liverpool boss, how will the champions adapt? And besides Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, who can fill in as alternatives on the middle half?
After the summer sale of Dejan Lovren and in particular the choice not to replace him, are Liverpool about to suffer from their lack of coverage in defense?
Jurgen Klopp was furious about Van Dijk’s injury and may now have a crisis at the center back
The defensive midfielder has become a key player since his arrival from Monaco two years ago, following a spell in which the Brazilian played in various positions for the Ligue 1 club, including right back.
Despite its efficiency in breaking up the game in the middle of the park. Fabinho can be used well as a defender in the absence of Van Dijk.
The 26-year-old fell in with the Dutchman against Chelsea last month and was a standout player, wiping out Timo Werner and looking more than comfortable in a deeper role.
Fabinho played at center back against Chelsea and was a standout for the Reds
With a cluster of midfielders available to Klopp, Fabinho is the most obvious candidate to fill in the back when Van Dijk is out for a longer period of time.
Yes, the Reds would miss his quality in midfield. But back cover aside, Fabinho could play an even more important role in the weeks and months ahead.
Like Fabinho, the Liverpool captain is a workhorse in midfield, but can be used as a cover in the back.
Although an unusual position, Henderson played center-back alongside Van Dijk in the FIFA Club World Cup last December, when the Reds defeated Mexican Monterrey in the semi-final.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has filled the central half before
On that occasion, the England international performed excellently and if Van Dijk were to be absent for the rest of this season, it would not be entirely inscrutable that Henderson fills in at center back.
With Thiago Alcantara, Gini Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita all the other midfield options, Henderson’s void could be filled. Whether Klopp sees his captaincy as a viable long-term option is a whole different matter.
According to rumors at a host of Championship clubs until Friday’s domestic transfer deadline, Nat Phillips stayed put – and that in itself could be vital to Liverpool’s ambitions.
The 23-year-old, who made his first-team debut last season in the FA Cup third-round win against Everton, is a natural central half and could make the step to the starting XI, especially with the Reds playing two games played against each other. week in the next month.
He was on loan to VFB Stuttgart for half of last season, so has experience at the highest level abroad and is naturally dominant in the air.
Phillips, a fringe player in the first team, could be called up in the coming weeks.
At the age of 23, Nat Phillips is a senior first-team option at center back who could fill in for Van Dijk
SEPP VAN DEN BERG
The 18-year-old joined Liverpool last summer for £ 1.3 million from the academy at Ajax and is highly regarded by the Reds’ coaching staff.
He made his first start against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup last season, in a penalty shoot-out victory after a 5-5 draw, and has been part of the first team since arriving at Merseyside.
Sepp van den Berg was brought in from Ajax last summer and is highly regarded at Melwood
While a sudden move to the starting XI could be drastic, unlike midfielder Harvey Elliott who was loaned out to Blackburn on Friday, the teenager is still with Melwood and can be used by Klopp.
The 17-year-old was the most impressive performer among the academy group during the Reds’ short preseason in August.
The Frenchman only signed his first professional contract in the same month, but certainly made a remarkable impression on Klopp during the first-team camp in Austria.
Billy Koumetio (left) impressed Jurgen Klopp during Liverpool’s preparation camp in Austria
Although he made a mistake in a friendly against Blackpool at Anfield, Klopp then reassured the youngster by saying, ‘Billy played super balls, super passes … 17 years old, wow, all of life for him, which is really fun. Great talent
Could Koumetio, earlier in the Lyons books, be used as a last resort in Van Dijk’s absence?
For all young imports from abroad, English center-back Rhys Williams was the player Klopp actually chose in a match this season: against Lincoln in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
The 19-year-old played alongside Van Dijk and looked stable and confident in a comfortable 7-2 win.
Williams has been with Liverpool since he was ten and also started the next round against Arsenal where he didn’t look out of his depth.
Despite being knocked out of the league, could Williams play a bigger role this season if Van Dijk’s injury were damaging?
Rhys Williams played against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup and played well alongside Van Dijk