Virgil van Dijk has spoken out for the first time since he sustained a potential season-ending injury in Saturday’s Merseyside derby, with the Liverpool centre-back vowing to bounce back “better, fitter and stronger than ever before”.
The defender had to be helped from the field inside the opening quarter-hour of his side’s 2-2 draw with Everton following a challenge from Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Subsequent scans have confirmed that the Netherlands skipper has suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury, leaving him facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Van Dijk’s injury has handed a major blow to Liverpool’s aspirations of a successful title defence of their first Premier League crown, with the club already relatively stretched across the Dutchman’s preferred position as it is.
Taking to social media on Sunday however, the 29-year-old defender thanked supporters for their words of comfort and stated his intent to repay their faith down the line as he begins his long journey back to full fitness.
“This afternoon I met with a leading consultant to start the process of planning the finer details of my rehabilitation following the incident yesterday,” Van Dijk wrote on Twitter.
“I’m now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible.
“Despite the obvious disappointment, I’m a firm believer that within difficulty lies opportunity and with God’s help I’m going to make sure I return better, fitter and stronger than ever before.
“In football, as in life, I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s important to try and keep level-headed whether going through the highs or the lows. With the support of my wife, kids, family and everyone at Liverpool, I’m ready for the challenge ahead.
“I’d like to thank everyone for the messages of support. It’s meant a huge amount to me and my family, and now I’ll be doing everything possible to support my teammates in anyway I can ahead of a big few weeks ahead as I take my own recovery day by day. I’ll be back.”
Liverpool will begin their Champions League campaign with a trip to Van Dijk’s homeland to face Ajax on Wednesday, with manager Klopp facing headaches over his lineup as he looks to compensate for the loss of his talismanic star.