Reds fans suffered a scare after Virgil van Dijk pulled out of the Netherlands squad, but thankfully it is down to personal reasons. Liverpool fans will be relieved to hear it is not injury related and he should be fine when Jurgen Klopp’s men return to Premier League action against Crystal Palace this weekend, but it begs the question how would they cope if he was missing for any length of time?
The Dutch defender has been in outstanding form for the Reds this season, playing every minute of Premier League action as they have moved eight points clear at the top of the table.
The central defender also played the full 90 minutes as the Dutch drew 0-0 with Northern Ireland on Saturday to book their place at next summer’s Euro 2020 finals.
However he will not play a part in the final qualifier against Estonia in Amsterdam after the Dutch FA issued a statement saying ‘personal circumstances’ are behind the withdrawal.
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Everyone will wish the player well, but the withdrawal could be a bonus for Liverpool as Van Dijk has already played 23 games for club and country this season, and the rest should do him good.
Liverpool are back in action this Saturday when they travel to Selhurst Park to take on Palace and will be praying Van Dijk is fit, fresh and in a good state of mind to play.
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It is no coincidence that Liverpool’s upsurge in form has come since the Reds splashed out £75million to sign the Dutch ace from Southampton in January 2018.
He has gone on to play in 64 of Liverpool’s 66 Premier League matches since then and has been a rock at the back.
Keeping key players fit and fresh will be crucial for Liverpool this season as they look to end their title drought, but Van Dijk is more important than most.
There is a feeling that Liverpool could cope with the loss of most players as there is adequate cover and players that can step in and do a job, but Van Dijk is irreplaceable.
Liverpool have shown they can get goals without Mohamed Salah in the side, and could do the same if Sadio Mane or Roberto Firminio had to sit out. But the loss of Van Dijk, the lynchpin that holds the defence together would be a different matter.
See how Manchester City have been affected by the loss of Aymeric Laporte in the heart of their defence. Other quality players can come in, but it is not quite the same. For that reason, Liverpool fans will be praying Van Dijk stays fit and well.
The Reds have a hectic fixture schedule coming up and the squad is set to be stretched and tested to the max, Van Dijk having some timeout this week can only be a good thing.