Liverpool’s chances of retaining the Premier League title could rest on the injury status of goalkeeper Alisson Becker, rather than Virgil van Dijk. That’s the belief of former goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.
Liverpool are bracing themselves for the worst news possible after Saturday’s Merseyside Derby.
Van Dijk was taken off after just five minutes following a crunching tackle from Jordan Pickford.
The defender was caught just above the knee by the oncoming goalkeeper, who evaded punishment for the challenge.
Initial reports suggest Van Dijk suffered an ACL injury, and could miss eight months of action – ruling him out for the remainder of the season.
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It will potentially be the worst injury of his career, and the biggest problem Liverpool have had to deal with within their squad.
He could be joined by Thiago Alcantara in the treatment room after the Spaniard was injured by Richarlison late in the game.
Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge would take a serious hit if they were forced to go without Van Dijk until next season, but Hislop believes Alisson’s injury could be worse.
The Brazilian goalkeeper is currently dealing with a shoulder injury, and is set to miss another few weeks while he rehabs.
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And speaking to ESPN FC, Hislop explained that the absence of Alisson would be too much for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
He said: “[Van Dijk’s injury] dents [Liverpool’s chances] considerably,”
“You’re asking a lot of Matip and Gomez to step up. Neither of them are Virgil van Dijk, but they’re both very good centre-backs.
“It’s not done just yet, that hinges on the fitness of Alisson.
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“You can’t afford to lose the best centre-back and the best goalkeeper in world football.
“If Alisson stays fit consistently until the end of the season, then I think [Van Dijk’s absence] lessens Liverpool, but not enough for me to rule them out of winning the title just yet.”
Former France player Frank Lebouef was appearing alongside Hislop, and admitted that the title race could well be over if Van Dijk is ruled out for the season.
He added: “I’m not too far from thinking that [the title race is over].
“Van Dijk is absolutely important in the dressing room and on the field, his talent and leadership is absolutely crucial for the Reds.
“It’s going to be different, and now it’s going to be a different story.
“We saw that today, he went out and Liverpool conceded two goals – two goals with big headers that he wasn’t there to save.”
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