Liverpool’s No. 4 is expected to be sidelined for much, if not all, of the 2020/21 season after suffering an ACL injury – leaving Liverpool without a key pillar and the Premier League without its best defender.
Van Dijk, the runner-up in the Ballon d’Or in 2019, leaves shoes which are hard to fill and his absence has caused many outsiders to questions the Reds’ ability to retain their title.
Inside Anfield, however, there will be a steely determination to ensure his absence does not derail their campaign, with Liverpool having proven time and time again that they cannot be written off.
Their title rivals in Man City, who have similarly dropped points on two occasions this season, are no strangers to the loss of a key defender having seen Aymeric Laporte miss a large chunk of 2019/20.
And Guardiola was not in the mood to assess whether Liverpool will be weaker for Van Dijk’s absence as he instead looked to send the Dutchman his best wishes, lamenting the loss of one of the competitions best players.
“I cannot speak about how it will affect Liverpool. Jurgen can talk about this. We wish him to get well soon and have a good recovery,” Guardiola said.
“I hate, I don’t like opponents losing important players for a long time. I don’t know him much but he looks strong so he’s going to come back well.
“We’ll wait for him to come back to the Premier League to make our league better because the league is better with good players on the pitch and he is one of the best.
“Get well soon and all the best for him, his family and all of Liverpool.”
It is a classy message from the City boss and a timely reminder that the person comes before the player or manager.