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Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender undergoes 'successful' knee surgery in London

Virgil van Dijk has undergone “successful” knee surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament damage he sustained in the Merseyside derby, Liverpool have confirmed.

The Dutch centre-back suffered the injury in a challenge with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park on October 17.

“The Liverpool defender’s planned operation took place in London and was conducted successfully,” read a club statement.

“Van Dijk will now immediately focus on the beginning of his rehabilitation with the support of the Reds’ medical department.



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“No timeframe has been placed on the Dutchman’s return to action.”

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Liverpool’s defensive worries worsened on Tuesday night when makeshift centre-back Fabinho suffered a suspected hamstring injury in their 2-0 win over Midtjylland in the Champions League.

Fabinho, who had previously filled in for Van Dijk for the wins over Ajax and Sheffield United, was forced off after half an hour at Anfield.

Rhys Williams, who spent last season on loan at sixth-tier Kidderminster Harriers, played the remainder of the match against Midtjylland and the 19-year-old could now make his Premier League debut against West Ham on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.

Alisson: Pickford challenge was unnecessary

Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson has become the latest Liverpool player to criticise Pickford for the challenge which left Van Dijk requiring surgery.

“Every goalkeeper has a different way to play and a different way to move,” Alisson told Sky Sports News.

“In that moment, 100 per cent it wasn’t a necessary movement. Thinking in my mind when I go to a situation I go to finish it because if I go too soft the opponent can score.

“But everyone has their own way. I don’t agree with that way, everyone can see that. It was an unnecessary moment and movement.”

Who could step in for Van Dijk, Fabinho?

Virgil van Dijk’s long-term injury has given Jurgen Klopp plenty to ponder in terms of his selections at centre-back over the coming weeks, and with Fabinho also going off against Midtjylland, he may have to turn to youth.

Rhys Williams, Sepp van den Berg, Nathaniel Phillips and Billy Koumetio are among the leading young centre-backs at Liverpool, and we assess their capabilities.

Pitch to Post Preview: Jamie Redknapp on Man Utd vs Arsenal; plus Liverpool’s CB options, and will Everton bounce back?

Jamie Redknapp joins Peter Smith on this week’s show to look ahead to Sunday’s showdown between Man Utd and Arsenal and says there are more questions than answers at Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prepares for his 100th game in charge.

Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O’Connor has the latest on Liverpool’s injury problems and discusses the young players who could cover at centre-back.

And Sky Sports statistician Matt Cheetham picks out the numbers which explain why Everton’s defeat at Southampton could just be a blip, and makes his bold Pitch for what will happen in the Premier League this weekend.

Listen to the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox

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Barely a peek of Van de Beek who looks forlorn at Manchester United

Barely a peek of Donny van de Beek as Manchester United’s new £40m man looks forlorn on the fringes at Old Trafford after being a starter at Ajax

  • Donny van de Beek signed for Manchester United in the summer for £40m
  • The Dutchman has struggled to get game-time his arrival from Ajax last month 
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has promised that we’ll see more out of the 23-year-old  
  • There is frustration from fans and people back home over his lack of chances 

There was little to admire about Manchester United here at Old Trafford, but the strength of their bench was certainly impressive enough.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought on Edinson Cavani for his debut, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood. Not a bad supporting cast. The United manager still had Nemanja Matic, Axel Tuanzebe and goalkeeper Dean Henderson in reserve.

Then there was United’s seventh substitute. The blond-haired Dutchman sitting forlornly in the rain waiting for his chance to shine. It has been a peculiar time for Donny van de Beek since swapping a starting spot at Ajax, who enjoyed a 13-0 win on Saturday, for a place on the fringes at United.

Donny van de Beek has struggled to get game-time due to the competition at Old Trafford

What should have been an exciting new chapter in the 23-year-old’s career has turned into a period of frustration bordering on stagnation. United’s £40million signing has made just two starts, in the Carabao Cup against Luton Town and Brighton. Four Premier League appearances as a substitute have produced a total of 61 minutes, plus a two-minute cameo in the Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain.

There is little doubt that Van de Beek is a victim of the short pre-season. He has not had as long as many new signings to adapt to his new environment, and there is a feeling at United that he needs to build himself up physically for the demands of English football. 

But his lack of involvement has only added weight to the argument that United needed to strengthen in other areas instead of adding to their extensive midfield options. 

Solskjaer acknowledged the issue before Saturday’s draw, saying: ‘Donny’s fit enough but it’s competition for places. It’s a new league and it’s giving him time to settle and adjust to his new team-mates. He’s eager to play more but it’s going to be a long season and you’ll see him.’

What followed was another evening on the sidelines. Van de Beek only got on the pitch after the final whistle when he took part in a warm-down session with the other unused subs.

His agent, Sjaak Swart, had voiced exasperation last month, pointing out that Van de Beek scored off the bench on his debut against Crystal Palace and was involved again when United won their next League game with a late penalty at Brighton.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Van de Beek is taking time to adjust to a new league since his move

Danny Blind, the former Holland coach and father of ex-United player Daley, echoed the mood in his country after Van de Beek was again surplus to requirements for his club having played 90 minutes twice for the national side against Mexico and Italy in the last international break.

‘What was he signed for?’ Blind demanded to know on Dutch TV. ‘I listened to Solskjaer and he had nothing but praise for Donny. Yet he didn’t even give him a cameo. He bought him to beef up the squad. Why not use that squad depth?’

The games don’t get any easier. United face Red Bull Leipzig on Wednesday followed by Arsenal, Istanbul Basaksehir and Everton. Van de Beek is desperate to play a part, but for now the wait goes on.




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Van Gogh makes big impression at Saint-Cloud

Van Gogh produced an impressive burst of speed to win the Group One Criterium International for Aidan O’Brien at Saint-Cloud.

Pierre-Charles Boudot had Van Gogh anchored last of the six-runner field until making swift progress into the straight and bagging the rail position on the stands side.

On his seventh start of a busy campaign, O’Brien’s American Pharoah colt then quickly put distance between himself and the rest – and at the post the 3-1 shot had four lengths in hand from rallying long-time leader Normandy Bridge.

Van Gogh appeared to relish the heavy ground on his first attempt at the top level, going one better than when second to One Ruler in Newmarket’s Group Three Autumn Stakes.

Winning jockey Boudot told Sky Sports Racing: “He is impressive.

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“Aidan told me before the race that he needed cover, for a nice trip and be relaxed – and he has a nice turn of foot.

“But he is still green and tricky when he arrived in front – but he won in very good style.”

Van Gogh, whose performance attracted a Betfair quote of 20-1 (from 33-1) for next year’s Epsom Derby, was previously a runner-up at Group Two and Group Three level in Ireland.

Among those behind him this time were two British challengers – and fellow 9-4 joint-favourites – Simon and Ed Crisford’s Jadoomi (third) and Charlie Appleby’s previously unbeaten La Barrosa, who dead-heated for fifth and last.

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Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refuses to put timescale on defender's return

Jurgen Klopp is refusing to put a timescale on Virgil van Dijk’s return from the serious knee injury suffered in last weekend’s Merseyside derby.

Van Dijk is yet to undergo surgery on the cruciate ligament damage he suffered in a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The Dutch defender could miss the rest of the season but Klopp would not give an estimated return date during Friday’s press conference.

“I can understand that people are interested in that,” said the Liverpool boss. “Virgil was here, he is okay.

“But when it comes to the surgery and stuff, it doesn’t make sense for us to give a time schedule. We’ll do that at an appropriate time, but he’s as good as possible.

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“We don’t want to know how long he is out for, it will take time for sure. In the end, all people are different so we can’t say for him it’s that long, for him it’s that long.

“It makes sense from a specific moment in the recovery and rehab time.

“Everybody copes differently with it that’s why there is no need for an update.”

Klopp has backed Fabinho to fill in for Van Dijk at the heart of Liverpool’s defence after impressing alongside Joe Gomez at centre-back during Wednesday’s Champions League win against Ajax.

“They’re (Van Dijk and Fabinho) different players but both can defend, that helps obviously,” said Klopp.

“We all know Fab can play this position, he played against Bayern for example in a home game, and was absolutely great.



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“I’m not surprised he can play the position but it’s all about getting used to each other. I don’t think this line played together before the Ajax game.

“There are a lot of things from an organisational point of view. You cannot talk about it or exchange notes about it; it’s just to feel what’s right and wrong, high line or low line, this kind of stuff.

“That’s why I said there is a lot to improve because these boys need to get used to each other.”

Liverpool return to Premier League action on Saturday when they face Sheffield United, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

It means a quick return to Anfield for Rhian Brewster, who joined the Blades from Liverpool in a £23.5m earlier this month.

“We all know him very well and that’s the problem, we know how good he is. That’s the situation,” said Klopp.

“We need to be 100 per cent focused if he starts. But not only him. Sheffield United are doing really well; they had a pretty tough start fixture-wise.

“I’m pretty sure Chris (Wilder) is calm enough to know all the good things they did are still good and they just have to keep them going. That’s what they will try and that makes it really a very intense game.

“It’s Sheffield United; the way they play, if you want to win the game you have to be intense yourself.

“And if Rhian is then on the pitch, we know we should not let him finish at all because wherever he gets the ball he is a natural finisher and that’s his biggest threat.”

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With Van Dijk out for months, it's time for Gomez and Matip to step up

It’s time for Joe Gomez and Joel Matip to step up for Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk out for the season… but the pair have NEVER started together at centre back and must hit the ground running with six matches in 18 days

  • Virgil Van Dijk’s season is all but over after suffering an ACL injury on Saturday
  • His long-term absence presents a problem for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
  • Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are set to step in without Mr Reliable alongside them
  • Gomez and Matip have never actually started a match together at centre back 
  • Fabinho and a host of youngsters could also be used as defensive alternatives 

One rash tackle, one grimace of pain, one season-ending injury to Vigil Van Dijk. Suddenly, the mood around Liverpool has changed dramatically. 

The Reds’ talismanic centre back requires surgery on his ACL injury suffered in Saturday’s Merseyside Derby, as a result of Jordan Pickford’s horror challenge in the early stages which, remarkably, went unpunished. 

With the transfer window closed until January, Jurgen Klopp has a defensive problem he must have dreaded. Van Dijk has been an ever-present since his £75m signing in January 2018, having played 93 consecutive Premier League matches, and replacing him is a near-impossible task. 

Virgil Van Dijk suffered a knee injury on Saturday after a horror challenge from Jordan Pickford

Liverpool are set for months without their best defender, with Van Dijk requiring surgery

He even started against Lincoln and Arsenal in the Carabao Cup this season – his durability and supreme fitness is as much a strength as his all-round superiority and control at the back.   

Irreplaceable? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Van Dijk won the UEFA Player of the Year award in 2019 as well as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award. Respected by onlookers and his fellow players, his influence on Klopp’s juggernaut in the past three years has been monumental. 

So, what now? Until the opportunity to bring in new players arises again in the New Year, Liverpool face 17 matches in 10 weeks and – in the short-term – six games in 18 days, starting with a trip to Amsterdam on Wednesday to face Ajax as the Champions League returns this week. 

It’s a schedule made even more gruelling by Van Dijk’s absence. Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are now the only senior centre backs in the first-team squad, with Fabinho – who played admirably in defence against Chelsea last month – an alternative to drop back from his usual role in defensive midfield. 

On the fringes, Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and Billy Koumetio could all play a part in the upcoming months too – if not from the start, perhaps from the bench. 

Now though, without their calming Dutch presence next to them, Gomez and Matip will have to learn how to play alongside one another – and fast. 

Strikingly, despite being at the club for over four years together and starting 21 matches alongside one another, the pair have never actually started a match together at centre half.  

Before Van Dijk’s arrival, it was actually Dejan Lovren who was the regularly-used man at the heart of defence. Gomez was used often as right back in Klopp’s early years too. 

Yet now, the Croat’s £11m departure to Zenit St Petersburg in the summer seems like a rash decision. Or rather, the lack of a reinforcement seems even more puzzling. 

The sale of Dejan Lovren to Zenit in the summer now leaves Liverpool short in central defence

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp now has only two senior centre backs following Van Dijk’s injury

Nevertheless, in Gomez and Matip, the Liverpool manager knows he has two players in the prime of their careers who are now needed to show their abundance of quality more than ever.

Gomez, who was used as a makeshift wing back throughout the early part of his Anfield career, emerged as Van Dijk’s regular partner last season, with Matip out injured for a long period. 

Quick, aerially dominant and confident on the ball, Gomez made his England debut in November 2017 as he became a reliable first-team squad player for his club. 

It was at the beginning of the 2018-19 season where Gomez first truly impressed though in his favoured central position, with his consistency only curtailed by a cruel fractured leg suffered against Burnley in December. 

Joe Gomez, who has been short of form, will now be needed to deputise in Van Dijk’s absence

He missed virtually the rest of the season after requiring surgery, but did come on as a late substitute in the 2019 Champions League final victory against Tottenham. 

Yet Gomez’s injury gave Matip a long-term chance to shine alongside Van Dijk that season and like the man he replaced, Matip came into his own. 

The Cameroonian was as reliable as Van Dijk and won over a number of supporters as the Reds pushed Manchester City all the way in the Premier League title race and won on the European stage. 

Joel Matip started for the first time against Everton on Saturday following four months out

In fact, in the Champions League final where Van Dijk was named man-of-the-match, Matip was arguably as instrumental, particularly given he laid on Divock Origi’s trophy-clinching goal late on. 

But, like Gomez, Matip has had his injury problems. His 2019-20 season was plagued with injuries, as he picked up three different knocks at different points of the season. 

Now, with Van Dijk a long-term absentee, that situation cannot afford to repeat itself. On the contrary, both Gomez and Van Dijk need to strike up a partnership and hit the ground running amid a congested schedule. 

That is easier said than done. Gomez arguably had his worst performance in a Liverpool shirt when he last started, in the shock 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa before the international break, while Matip only made his first start after a long-term injury against Everton on Saturday following four months out. 

Gomez and Matip (centre) will need to work on their partnership on the training pitch

One is short of form, one is short of fitness – Matip actually required a scan after Saturday’s derby, yet no major issue wad detected. 

In the long run though, who will shift over to play on the left-hand side? Who will take the onus in terms of leadershIp? Are they both compatible together without the colossal Van Dijk next to them? 

These are all questions which will be put under the spotlight, probably for the rest of the season. And it is not hyperbolising when saying that the answers to those questions could well define Liverpool’s season.  




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Virgil van Dijk releases emotional statement ahead of ACL surgery


Virgil van Dijk has released a statement following the news that he is set to undergo ACL surgery for an injury he suffered in Liverpool’s Merseyside derby draw at Everton on Saturday.

Van Dijk was scythed down by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford early in the first half of the Premier League fixture at Goodison Park, a challenge for which the Toffees’ shotstopper went unpunished.

Van Dijk was forced off, and Liverpool confirmed on Sunday that the centre-back would require surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligament damage. 

It is anticipated that the Netherlands defender could miss between six and nine months of action as a result.

“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 social media on Sunday.

“I’m now fully focussed 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 I’ll now be doing everything possible to support my teammates in any way I can ahead of a big few weeks ahead as I take my own recovery day by day. 

“I’ll be back.”

Club sources are reluctant to rule out a return to action this season for the 29-year-old, who had played every minute of the 74 league games prior to being forced off the pitch on Saturday, a spell stretching back to his substitution in the 3-0 home win over Southampton in September 2018.

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Virgil van Dijk out for at least five months with ACL tear

Virgil van Dijk is expected to miss the majority of the season after results confirmed he had suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament tear.

The Dutchman was unable to continue in his side’s draw against Everton on Saturday after a nasty challenge from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Van Dijk was able to walk off the pitch but the swelling quickly increased and he left Goodison Park on crutches, with the club doctor fearing the worst.

Scan results have now shown the worst case scenario in that the former Celtic man has suffered an ACL tear.

Van Dijk will undergo surgery and the minimum he can be expected to be out is five months – which would be the best case scenario.

In a brief statement, Liverpool refused to put a timeframe on Van Dijk’s injury.

‘Liverpool FC can confirm Virgil van Dijk will undergo surgery on the knee injury he sustained during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Everton,’ a statement read.

‘The centre-back damaged knee ligaments following an incident involving Blues goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after six minutes at Goodison Park.

‘Van Dijk was required to be substituted and further assessment on the injury has revealed an operation will be needed.

‘No specific timescale is being placed upon his return to action at this stage.

‘Following surgery, Van Dijk will begin a rehabilitation programme with the club’s medical team to enable him to reach full fitness as soon as possible.’

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Solskjaer insists Van de Beek will get his chance in the coming weeks

‘He’ll get his game time’: Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Donny van de Beek WILL start in the coming weeks… with summer signing limited to just 59 minutes of Premier League action since his arrival

  • Donny van de Beek came on with 14 minutes to go against Newcastle United
  • The Man United midfielder played a part as United scored three times late on 
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists van de Beek will get his chance to start soon

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted that summer signing Donny van de Beek will get his chance in the starting XI after he made another influential impact against Newcastle on Saturday night. 

United struck three times late on against the Magpies to claim a 4-1 win at St James’ Park, in a crucial result following a disappointing start to the season. 

Van de Beek came off the bench with 14 minutes to go on Saturday to help United storm to victory, and an impressed Solskjaer admitted the former Ajax star will get his chance to start in the coming weeks after being reduced to just 59 minutes of Premier League action so far this season. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says that Donny van de Beek will get his chance in the starting XI

Van De Beek celebrates on Saturday night after United rallied late on to claim all three points 

‘He’ll get his game time. He’s been fantastic in the group,’ Solskjaer told reporters after the win against Newcastle. 

‘I think you see today and in training, he’s so neat and tidy, I don’t think he lost the ball once.

‘It’s about finding the balance in the team. We’ve won 4-1 today and you’re asking why I didn’t start one of the players. He’ll have a very good impact on the team.’ 

£40million man Van De Beek made a promising start to his United career, scoring on his debut in an opening-day defeat against Crystal Palace, but is yet to establish himself as a regular. 

Meanwhile, captain Harry Maguire – who has had a torrid few months on and off the pitch – received praise from Solskjaer after bouncing back from his red card on England duty to score in United’s win. 

Harry Maguire capped a fine individual performance with a goal in the 4-1 win at St James’ Park

Bruno Fernandes swatted away transfer speculation with a starring performance on Saturday

‘Harry scored and leads by example,’ Solskjaer said of his captain. 

‘He showed good character, I am happy for him. He had a couple of difficult weeks since he last played for us,’ Solskjaer said.

‘The boys came together really well. They are looking forward to every game. Today I rested a few and they have come on and done the business for us.’

Goals from Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford in the closing stages sealed the late victory for United, who moved up to 14th in the table.

Solskjaer’s side face an all-together sterner test on Tuesday as they travel to Paris to take on last season’s runners-up PSG in the Champions League. 




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