There’s no doubting the hugely important role Virgil van Dijk has played in Liverpool’s recent success.
Since arriving in January 2018 from Southampton, when the Reds’ paid £75million – a then world record for a defender – to sign the Dutchman, the club have won the Champions League and the Premier League.
Indeed, the statistics back-up the belief that Van Dijk is arguably the most important member of Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad.
The 29-year-old defender has missed just one Premier League game since arriving at Anfield and has helped them amass a whopping 196 points in his two full seasons with the club.
In his 95 top-flight starts for Liverpool, Klopp’s side have conceded just 78 goals and kept 44 clean sheets.
Unsurprisingly, the Dutch centre back is top for the most Premier League clean sheets since his first appearance.
And he also has the best success rate – 74.4 per cent – of any player involved in at least 100 duels in the top flight, competing in 812 and winning 604.
He’s been a consistent figure too; during the 2018/19 season, he was the only player to figure for more than 1,000 minutes in any of Europe’s top five leagues without being dribbled past once.
There’s no forgetting the club’s success on the pitch either; Liverpool’s win rate with Van Dijk (130 games) stands at 70 per cent, while without him (13 games) it is 46 per cent.
And so, Liverpool will undoubtedly miss Van Dijk, who is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after it was confirmed their key defender requires knee surgery.
News of anterior cruciate ligament damage to the 29-year-old, sustained in a controversial high challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in Saturday’s 2-2 Merseyside derby draw, is the nightmare scenario for the Reds.
Not only does the injury rob them of one of their most influential players for the majority of their Premier League title defence, but also leaves Liverpool with just two senior centre-backs in Joel Matip, who has been plagued by niggling injuries himself, and Joe Gomez.
Jurgen Klopp opted not to replace Dejan Lovren when he left for Zenit St Petersburg in the summer and was content to gamble on utilising midfielder Fabinho as cover.
The damage suffered in his clash with Pickford, for which the Everton goalkeeper escaped punishment due to VAR official David Coote overlooking the tackle after ruling on the Holland captain’s offside in the build-up, means Van Dijk will have to have an operation.