LIVERPOOL, England — Virgil van Dijk is unlikely to play again this season, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Tuesday.
The Netherlands defender has been out since October with an anterior cruciate ligament injury and while regular social-media updates from his rehabilitation in Dubai have raised optimism among Liverpool fans, Klopp is less convinced.
"No doctor really told me that there is a chance for Virgil to play in this season again,” Klopp said. “I don’t want to say that is absolutely impossible but it is not likely, so we don’t have to discuss these things really."
Following his injury, Van Dijk was removed from Liverpool’s Premier League squad just before the deadline for submissions. He had already been included in the Champions League squad.
Even if Van Dijk's name appears when the club resubmits its updated paperwork this week, Klopp said nothing should be interpreted by that.
“If we have space, we will put them all on (the list)," Klopp said. "Even when all the medical people tell us there is no chance, we put them on because we believe in miracles from time to time.
“But if there is no place then we have to consider these type of things and say the chances are not too big so we have to make a decision. But if they are on the list then it is only because we hope for nearly a miracle — that is it.”
Fellow central defender Joe Gomez is also out with a long-term knee injury, while Joel Matip — the other senior centre back at the club — was ruled out of the remainder of the campaign on Monday because of an ankle ligament injury.
Liverpool signed Ben Davies from second-tier English club Preston and Ozan Kabak from German team Schalke on Monday, the final day of the winter transfer window.
“At the moment we are without our first four centre -half choices," said Klopp, who was including converted centre midfielder Fabinho on that list, “which is really strange and only one of them will come back in the next week or so and that is Fabinho and he is a six.”
“We needed players. Our problem is ... if one more thing happens then we don’t know what to do. Then we start struggling. The solutions we found so far are good and now we have more options."
While Kazak has not received international clearance, Davies could potentially make the squad for the home match against Brighton on Wednesday.
Klopp allowed Japan forward Takumi Minamino to join Southampton on loan after he struggled to break into a forward line comprising Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Minamino has made 31 appearances — the majority as substitute — after his arrival from Salzburg a year ago.
Klopp insists the player still has a long-term future at the club.
“Takumi is an incredibly good player and we didn’t give him enough chances, that is the truth. That is 100% my fault as well,” he said. “There were not a lot a clubs where I thought it made sense to let him go to but Southampton made sense. If Takumi stays fit, he has a good chance of playing 17 games which helps everybody. It helps Southampton, it helps us because the only thing Takumi was lacking was games in a row.
“I would have loved to keep him just to have the option but because Takumi is a long-term project — always was — we see a lot of potential in Takumi and it makes sense that he plays and comes back in a completely different mindset, confidence level, all these kind of things."
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