Since Liverpool’s No. 4 was ruled out of action back in October with an ACL injury, the countdown for his return to the pitch began in earnest.
And while the Reds have been resistant to put a timeframe on his comeback, hopes have long been that the centre-back could feature before the end of the season.
That would likely fall in May, some seven months after the point of injury. And with Euro 2020 starting a month later, plenty of discussions have surrounded his chances of captaining the Netherlands at the competition.
Manager Frank de Boer spoke in January of his hopes of being able to call upon Van Dijk in the summer, but Klopp sits at the other end of the spectrum having said it’s “unlikely.”
And that forms the basis of the Mirror‘s bizarre take that “Van Dijk is on a collision course with Klopp” as the No. 4 has also set his sights on representing his country in June.
It is stated that “Klopp and his medical team are said to be horrified he might play at the Euros before he’s played for Liverpool.”
But the Reds boss has already stated that pre-season is a realistic return date for Van Dijk and in the same breath insisted that “it’s not that I don’t let them go [to the Euros], because I don’t want to have to do that anyway, but it’s because of the extent of the injury.”
And with the nature of the Dutchman’s injury, there are numerous factors to consider beyond just the short-term as studies have shown reinjury rates can be reduced for every month that a return is delayed after ACL reconstruction.
It would not be a surprise to anyone that Klopp’s desire would be that Van Dijk missed the Euros as to avoid potential setbacks, but to suggest the two are set up for a “collision course” is a reach.
The medical department will ultimately have the final say for when a green light is given and it may need to be a case of head over heart for Van Dijk as to not gamble on his fitness prematurely.
But if he does prove his fitness and has ticked the boxes required ahead of the Netherlands’ June 11 start, Klopp will no doubt welcome the “positive surprise” he has long spoken of.
But it is safe to say the decision will not be made on a whim nor pit Klopp and Van Dijk against one another against a backdrop of club vs. country.