Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has decided not to play for the Netherlands at this summer’s European Championships in a bid to start the 2021/22 season in the best possible condition. Van Dijk has not played for Liverpool since suffering a serious knee injury against Everton in October.
The centre-back was injured in a collision with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the 2-2 draw on October 17.
He underwent surgery on a ruptured cruciate ligament and has been working hard on his rehabilitation at Liverpool’s training ground over the past few months.
The 29-year-old defender has been a huge miss for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who is also without Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
Liverpool have posted plenty of videos of Van Dijk as he gradually returns to full fitness at the training ground in Kirkby recently, prompting fans to wonder whether he might be fit to return before the end of the season.
Van Dijk also has the Euros with the Netherlands to consider, with the tournament getting under way on June 11, less than three weeks after the end of the Premier League season on May 23.
Van Dijk has now confirmed his plans for the summer, saying he has taken the difficult decision to skip the Euros, where the Netherlands face Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia in Group C.
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“Seven months ago I got injured and it’s been a very, very long road,” he told the club website.
“I had to take it step by step, as I have done. Things have been going well, I’ve not had a real setback or anything, I’ve just progressed nicely.
“In this latest stage for myself, I have come to a decision that I had to make: would I be involved in the Euros, yes or no?
“With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I’ve decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season.
“So, the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that’s a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that.
“I am not the youngest anymore,” he added.
“I’m obviously not old, but I am quite mature and I know by now what could be a good decision – and I think this decision has definitely been the right one, in my opinion, to give my body and my knee a little bit more extra time to get ready for hopefully a big, big 18 months at least with the club but also with my country because we’re trying to go to the next tournament after this as well and that starts in September.
“I knew for a fact before all of this – before this decision and in the beginning of my rehab – there would be pressure on myself in this case.
“Hopefully, everybody wants me to be back as quick as possible, but for me it is to get back as good as possible and the time is not the most important thing.
“Obviously I want to be back out there, I want to be helping my teammates, helping my country in this case and I obviously want to help the club, but I think it’s the right thing to do to stay a little bit more patient and work even harder during the off-season and get ready.”