Liverpool will be without defender Virgil van Dijk for a number of months after confirming that the Dutchman suffered serious knee ligament damage in last week’s Merseyside derby.

He was forced off just 11 minutes into the club’s 2-2 draw at Everton on Saturday following a reckless challenge from Blues’ Jordan Pickford.

Virgil was sent for a hospital scan immediately after the match, and visited a specialist on Sunday to ascertain the full extent of the injury.

The news which came back was devastating for the PL champions. Van Dijk has suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which will require surgery and will keep the player out of action for an extended period.

The Reds have refused to give an exact timeframe for his recovery, with Anfield sources refusing to rule out the possibility of the 29-year-old star returning to action before the end of the term.

The club’s medical staff believe Virgil’s exceptional attitude and mentality will give him every chance of reducing the lay-off time.

What is certain, though, is that Virgil will miss the majority of Liverpool’s PL title defence, as well as the bulk of their UCL campaign.

The Dutchman has become a totemic figure at the club since arriving from Southampton for £75m in January 2018, a player Jurgen knows will be impossible to replace at the heart of his defence.

He had, prior to this weekend, played every minute of his side’s last 74 league matches, helping Liverpool record the best defensive record in the division in each of the last two terms.

In 2019, the Netherlands international was the PFA Player of the Year and finished second in the Ballon d’Or voting to Barcelona icon Lionel Messi.