If one were to pick Liverpool’s top performer to start the 2018-19 season, the most likely choice would be centre half Virgil van Dijk, who has stood out as the cornerstone of a new and much improved defence for Jürgen Klopp’s title aspirants.
However, while his play has remained strong, it had been clear the defender was struggling with an issue following the match against Paris Saint-Germain on September 18th. It has now been revealed that Van Dijk broke two ribs during the match.
“Virgil has been playing with two broken ribs for weeks and has been constantly injecting to play at Liverpool in recent weeks,” Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman told De Telegraaf after the player was sent home from the national team a week early.
Van Dijk wasn’t able to finish the following match against Southampton, but has played—and played well—against Manchester City, Napoli, and Chelsea. Obviously, it’s a situation that is far from ideal, but it seems Van Dijk is determined to play.
“He insisted on being present against Germany,” Koeman added. “That’s great, because you want internationals who want to be here at the expense of everything. The club would have preferred him there. But he said that he wanted to play.”
Both club and country, though, agreed Van Dijk shouldn’t take part in the Netherlands’ second match of the month, a friendly against Belgium, leading to his early return to Anfield over the weekend. Now, the only question is what comes next.
Given what’s happened so far, it’s clear if the game is a big one and Van Dijk is needed, the player himself is going to push to be involved. However, with Dejan Lovren back fit and the schedule looking a little easier, some rest could be possible.
In the league over the next month, Liverpool face Huddersfield, Cardiff, and Fulham along with top four hopefuls Arsenal. In Europe they have their two group games against Red Star Belgrade. If he does need some time off, he just might get it.