The decline of Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk is apparently all down to Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who injured him in a Merseyside derby in 2020.
The Netherlands captain put in a shoddy performance on Sunday, when his country scraped a narrow 2-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland.
Dutch pundits have been critical of Van Dijk, saying that he is struggling to look like a ‘leader’ for the Netherlands.
They also claim that the 32-year-old is no longer a top defender and is ‘on his last legs,’ suggesting that he should be left out of Ronald Koeman’s starting XI in future.
According to journalist Henk Spaan, Van Dijk’s decline isn’t his fault. Apparently, Pickford is completely and totally ‘responsible for the demise’ of the defender’s career.
“There was a moment on the sidelines against Ireland when Van Dijk was walked passed by an opponent he would once have laughed at and taken the ball from without wasting a drop of sweat,” Spaan wrote for Het Parool.
“Pickford’s tackle on Van Dijk during Everton-Liverpool was called a leg breaker by Peter Crouch on live TV. Tony Cascarino compared Pickford to Roy Keane, who ended the career of Haaland (who went on to play after the injury), the Manchester City striker’s father.
“I did not comment on Van Dijk’s play with compassion on Twitter X. I maintain that he’s no longer the designated captain of the Dutch national team.
“But it is certain that Pickford, who did not even receive a card before his attack, is responsible for the demise of Virgil’s career.”
Van Dijk suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament and required surgery as a result of the horror tackle by Pickford, which went unpunished by the referee.
The then-Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti claimed the goalkeeper was ‘really sad’ to have injured Van Dijk, who has since resolidified his spot in Liverpool’s starting XI.
If his recent performances for the Netherlands are anything to go by, he could see himself dropped by Koeman. Whether or not this is all Pickford’s fault, however, is still up for debate.