Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Wijnaldum left 'devastated' following 'stupid' Pickford challenge on Van Dijk

Georginio Wijnaldim couldn’t hide his frustration following the catastrophic injury setback to his Liverpool teammate, fellow countryman and long-term friend Virgil van Dijk.

The 29-year-old admits he was left ‘devastated’ following the incident involving Jordan Pickford at Goodison Park as Wijnaldum slammed Everton’s conduct during the 237th Merseyside derby.

Wijanldum branded the England goalkeeper’s reckless challenge on Van Dijk as ‘completely stupid’.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 17: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT )Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool collides with Everton’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on October 17, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

The incident has since likely ruled Van Dijk out for the remainder of the season with the Netherlands captain requiring surgery on an ACL injury. He has since been left out of Liverpool’s 25-man squad for the Premier League term.

Pickford escaped punishment for his erratic challenge from the Football Association although official David Coote has since been removed from future VAR duties after failing to act upon the incident.

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Elsewhere in the match, Liverpool suffered yet another injury setback to another of their world-class assets after Richarlison was shown a straight red card for another high and dangerous challenge, this time on Thiago Alcantara who has subsequently has since been ruled out for the Champions League clash tonight against Ajax.

 

Wijnaldum wasn’t one to hold back after seeing the incidents first-hand at Goodison and has swiftly hit back at Everton for some of their challenges during the 2-2 stalemate.

“Of course we are upset,” Wijnaldum told reporters ahead of tonight’s game in Amsterdam.

“The way Pickford went into the challenge was completely, in my opinion, stupid.

“I believe that he didn’t want to injure Virgil the way he injured him, but the way he took the tackle, he didn’t care about what happened after the tackle.

“I think we had it a lot with the games against Everton. In my opinion, they take it way too far in the games we play against them.

“We know it’s a derby and everyone wants to win the derby but they took it a little bit over the top.

“The tackle from Richarlison on Thiago was also a nasty tackle. The way they were doing it was completely unacceptable.

“It makes it harder that they will not be punished.”

After the match, Van Dijk was quickly taken to hospital before being sent to a specialist on Sunday who confirmed that surgery was needed to treat the injury which unsurprisingly left Wijnaldum and his teammates ‘devastated’.

“We’re still devastated”, he added. “This was different than normal. The way it happened is really hard for us.

“Everyone still has a really bad feeling about it. When we were speaking with lads about it Saturday, none of the lads slept because of what happened to Virgil and the way it happened.

“It is a really hard one to take and hard for the team.”

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – OCTOBER 20:(THE SUN OUT. THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool during a press conference in Amsterdam on October 20, 2020 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

What RTK has to say

Wijnaldum is absolutely spot on and the emotion in his voice showcased just how hard such events have hit home for Liverpool’s first-team players who have been left without the services of a player who has been their defensive bed-rock since signing in January 2018.

What is particularly frustrating is that both incidences were more than preventable and easily could have been avoided. The fact that Pickford was able to escape punishment was further vindication to the incompetence that too often is allowed to occur from officials and representatives in the professional game.

It is a tough pill to swallow for players and supporters alike and Wijnaldum’s comments perfectly reflect the mood on Merseyside.

As Jurgen Klopp rightly pointed out, the only two people who have to deal with the consequences of such events are Van Dijk and Thiago themselves which appropriately reflects why Liverpool are right to feel so aggrieved.

 

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