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“My body needed a rest” – Virgil van Dijk explains plan behind Liverpool absence

Virgil van Dijk has declared himself 100 percent fit for the Champions League final after a two-week break from action, as his “body needed a rest.”

Van Dijk has not featured since he limped off in the closing stages of normal time in the FA Cup final, having soldiered through an early issue at Wembley.

The Dutchman missed the trip to Southampton and was an unused substitute on the final day of the Premier League against Wolves, but there was never any suggestion he would miss Paris.

With the Champions League final looming, Van Dijk will make his first start since May 14 when Liverpool take on Real Madrid – a fortnight after his last outing, having taken in a much-needed and somewhat enforced break.

“I’m fine, absolutely fine. No issues and very excited for Saturday, of course,” he told the club’s official website.

“My body is definitely enjoying a little bit of rest after playing so many games, so many tense moments.

“And I think getting a little knock after the FA Cup final was maybe a sign that my body needed to have a rest.

“I feel absolutely fine now and looking forward to, hopefully, a special evening.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, May 25, 2022: Liverpool's Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is no surprise, really, that the workload eventually took its toll on Van Dijk, who after missing the majority of last season with an ACL injury has played 58 games for club and country this time out.

All of those came as a starter, and 57 saw him play every minute; among the Liverpool squad, only Alisson has clocked more minutes so far this campaign.

That is a testament to not only Van Dijk’s strength and determination, but also the input of the club’s medical staff and the decision to forgo a chance to captain the Netherlands at last summer’s Euros.

Now, he is reaping the benefits, and could lift a third trophy in a remarkable campaign on Saturday night having also gone the distance in the Premier League.

“This year could feel maybe a little bit more special because it is only my comeback season. That’s how I feel it,” he added.

“It’s been an incredible year, a tough year, and we will see what happens. We enjoy it and yeah, see what it brings”

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