Virgil van Dijk has tipped “outstanding” Liverpool teammate Fabinho to fill the void in defence in case of an injury crisis.
The Dutchman suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Everton on Saturday and could be out for the season.
He has been Jurgen Klopp’s standout defender since arriving in 2018 with many wondering how this injury will impact the title race.
But van Dijk was full of praise for Fabinho after his showing in defence during a 2-0 victory over Chelsea earlier this season.
“Outstanding,” the 29-year-old beamed per The Mirror when discussing his partner’s performance at Stamford Bridge.
“I just told him as well I think he was Man of the Match. To keep out a striker like [Timo] Werner and don’t let him score, overall he was outstanding.
“Everyone knows how good he is but it shows also that we need everyone. We are a bit unlucky with the injuries now but we’ll need everyone back because it’s such a long season.”
Fabinho usually operates as a defensive midfielder but has dropped into central defence a number of times.
A 0-0 draw against Bayern Munich in February 2019 saw the Reds without van Dijk, while Fabinho completed 90 minutes at the back.
Manager Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to the Brazilian’s versatility post-match but admitted van Dijk improves his defence tenfold.
“Very. Like he always is,” he stated when asked about van Dijk’s importance.
“But the most important thing is that we didn’t miss him as much as a lot of people expected us to because we defend as a unit.
“Of course it is really good to have him back. It is the first time in weeks that we have to make a choice between midfielders, full-backs and even centre-backs if you think about Fabinho.
“It is great to have him [Fabinho] as an option for both positions. His natural position is in midfield but because he can play at centre-half it makes him an unbelievably valuable player for us.”
Meanwhile, van Dijk has released an official statement following his devastating injury blow.
He begun: “This afternoon I met with a leading consultant to start the process of planning the finer details of my rehabilitation following the incident yesterdayy.
“I’m now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible. Despite the obvious disappointment, I’m a firm believer that within difficultly lies opportunity and with God’s help I’m going to make sure I can return better, fitter and stronger than ever before.
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“In football, as in life, I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s important to try and keep level headed whether going through the highs or the lows. With the support of my wife, kids, family and everyone at Liverpool, I’m ready for the challenge ahead.
“I’d like to thank everyone for the messages of support, it’s meant a huge amount to me and my family, and I’ll now be doing everything possible to support my teammates in any way I can ahead of a big few weeks ahead as I take my own recovery day by day. I’ll be back.”