Virgil van Dijk’s injury is one that could have serious consequences for Jurgen Klopp and his aspirations this season.
There is clearly no replacement for the £ 75million colossus and his knee injury which could end the season will undoubtedly weaken the champions going forward.
It’s a sad truth that Liverpool have been forced to swallow.
For many, Van Dijk is one of the best center-backs to have come forward for a club that have had their fair share over the years.
ACL surgery now awaits the Dutch captain and an already exhausted defense is facing life without him at a time when the schedule is expected to thicken with games.
But as the wailing continues for fans over the gray days that potentially await them, perhaps Liverpool’s flagship can brighten the scene?
It was already a strange campaign for Fabinho at Anfield.
Left on the bench for the first game of the season at home against Leeds, the Brazilian international could only watch the daring arrivals of Marcelo Bielsa cut corners in the defensive rear of the Reds.
He had a decisive impact on the bench, however, when he won the penalty which was encircled by treble hero Mohamed Salah.
Eight days later Fabinho was back on the side, but this time in the thick of a defense he hoped not to have to lend his talents directly to it frequently.
With Joe Gomez and Joel Matip ruled out, the Liverpool tower was pushed back alongside Van Dijk and was instantly targeted as a result, most notably by stiletto-heeled Timo Werner.
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The versatile former Monaco, who turned 27 on Friday, was excellent in keeping Chelsea’s big buys at bay in the 2-0 win.
Despite being primarily a defensive midfielder, Fabinho’s special skills encouraged Klopp to avoid adding to his center-back ranks in the market.
The Liverpool boss may not have envisioned a scenario that would leave him without the Van Dijk talisman for so long, but in his absence it is time for others to take responsibility for it.
For Matip, he must above all prove that he is capable of playing regularly. An injury in 2020 means he’s only completed 90 minutes once in over a year.
For Gomez, the personal challenge is for him to rediscover the form that helped make Liverpool’s defensive setup virtually impregnable between December and January of last season, when only two goals were scored in 12 first-team games.
And for Fabinho, the glove might be a bit more stacked as he continues from game to game without really knowing where his square ankle is.
One thing is clear, however, the 27-year-old is already set for what he needs to do in the next few months.
“It’s not easy but I have to do a bit of what Virgil always does – talk to the team and try to be a leader,” he said after putting on a virtually flawless performance in the Champions League victory over Ajax.
“Of course I’m not Virgil but I’m doing my best and will do my best. ”
As Fabinho says, he’s not Virgil van Dijk. No one in world football can claim to be at a similar level.
But Liverpool’s ‘flagship’ – a phrase first coined by assistant boss Pep Lijnders – is ready to step in to guide Klopp’s team home.