Liverpools Virgil van Dijk likely out for rest of season, says Jürgen Klopp – The Guardian

Liverpools Virgil van Dijk likely out for rest of season, says Jürgen Klopp – The Guardian

Liverpool

  • Defender has not played since knee injury in October
  • Manager adds Minamino’s Saints loan could be ‘win-win’

Jürgen Klopp has said it would take “a miracle” for Virgil van Dijk to play again this season and revealed Takumi Minamino’s height limited his appearances for Liverpool.

Liverpool have been reluctant to put a time frame on Van Dijk’s recovery from the cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in October, yet reports in recent days said the influential defender could return this season. Klopp has not ruled out including Van Dijk on Liverpool’s squad list when it is submitted to the Premier League this week. But the addition of Van Dijk or Joe Gomez, also sidelined with a serious knee injury, would be more in hope than expectation of featuring in Liverpool’s title defence, the manager said.

“I don’t know where these things are coming from,” Klopp said. “No doctor told me there is a chance for Virgil to play in this season again. I don’t want to say that is absolutely impossible but it is not likely. It is not likely so we don’t have to discuss these things really.

“If we have space [on the squad list] we will put them all on even when the medical people tell us there is no chance. We put them on because we believe in miracles from time to time, but if there is no space then we have to consider these things and say the chances are not too big so we have to make a decision. But if they are on the list then it is only because we hope for nearly a miracle.”

Liverpool let Minamino join Southampton on loan on deadline day after the Japan international had started only two Premier League games for the champions this season. Klopp believes the move can be “a win-win situation” for all concerned, and says Minamino remains part of his long-term plans, but revealed the forward’s opportunities were inadvertently affected by the disruption to Liverpool’s defence.

“Takumi is an incredibly good player and we didn’t give him enough chances, that is the truth. For different reasons. Sometimes it was just due to size because of our problems in defence. We were not tall enough and with Takumi on the pitch – how can we do that? Defending set pieces is a very important part of the game. In some moments these kind of things make the difference on why one player plays and the other does not.

“When Southampton came up, and there were not a lot a clubs where I thought it made sense to let him go, but Southampton made sense. He is there for 17 games and in Southampton’s situation if Takumi stays fit he has a good chance of playing 17 games, which helps everybody. It helps us because the only thing Takumi was lacking was games in a row. Takumi is a long-term project, always was; we see a lot of potential. It makes sense that he plays maybe 17 Premier League games and comes back in a completely different mindset and confidence level. I hope it is a win-win situation.”

Ben Davies is eligible to make his Liverpool debut against Brighton on Wednesday but his fellow deadline-day arrival, Ozan Kabak, cannot feature as he awaits international clearance.

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