When Virgil van Dijk returns to full match fitness, the impact he will have will be akin to a new signing and it might even overshadow Ibrahima Konate’s arrival.
The Dutchman had Liverpool fans all giddy with excitement on Saturday when he posted videos to Instagram showing him striking a ball with the same leg that suffered an ACL tear.
He smashed the ball into the top corner on a training pitch as he ramps up his recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament rupture that required corrective surgery.
That injury has so far seen him sidelined for 252 days and saw him robbed of the chance to represent his country at the EUROs and the Netherlands have a good chance of winning the tournament.
For Liverpool, his decision to stay home and focus on recovering from what is a very dangerous injury is a welcome one as there are huge risks in returning too early.
As explained to us by Dr. Rajpal Brar: “The main risk of VVD playing at the EUROs is reinjury or another injury. Introducing him straight away into a high-intensity situation is a higher risk and this would be a little over 7 months of rehab as well
“Research shows return in less than 9 months following ACL reconstruction increases reinjury risks by up to 6x.”
However, if all goes well and van Dijk avoids suffering another major injury, his return to the starting XI, as Jurgen Klopp would say, will feel like a new signing.
And for once, I agree with our boss. Van Dijk had an unreal impact on Liverpool when he joined from Southampton and his absence from the side had a similarly strong but adverse effect on the Reds.
In fact, his importance to Liverpool is such that I think Ibrahima Konate’s arrival and place in the starting XI will feel somewhat underwhelming.
That’s not to say the Frenchman isn’t going to be a great player – quite the opposite as RB Leipzig coaching staff allegedly think he will one day dethrone van Dijk as the best centre-back in the world.
However, van Dijk is the most talented centre-back around and having him back will feel like adding another world-class player to Klopp’s ranks.
Transfermarkt values him at just €55m but his value to the Kop is such that I don’t think Klopp and FSG will ever consider selling him even if it means he one day leaves for free.