Virgil van Dijk got in touch with his former Liverpool teammate Sadio Mané after he was ruled out of the World Cup this week. The two were set to play each other.
Both Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mané would have relished meeting in the World Cup when the groups were announced. The Netherlands and Senegal were placed in the same group – pitting the two former Liverpool teammates against one another.
However, Mané picked up an injury during Bayern Munich’s last game and it was confirmed this week that he’d require surgery. With that, the was ruled out of the World Cup.
It’s a massive blow for Mané and Senegal. Van Dijk, recognising the situation, says he got in touch with his former teammate as soon as he heard of his injury.
“Yes I called him [immediately after the injury],” said Van Dijk, per the Mirror. “I wanted to know how he was because there was so many rumours.
“Unfortunately, at the time, it was not the best news. I feel sad for him, I know how hard he works for this, and he has been important for Senegal.”
Van Dijk went on to pay tribute to Mané as the second best player on the planet.
“Of course we’re not just talking about the Senegalese people, people all over the world, the whole football family is saddened by what happened to Sadio,” he said. “He is the second-best player in the world.
“In the last few weeks I’ve received many calls from people who are sad about what happened to Sadio.”
Sadio Mané misses the World Cup
It’s such a shame for Mané. After winning AFCON at the start of the year, there was a sense that Senegal could go far. That now seems highly unlikely without their star player.
And Mané even beat Mohamed Salah in order to get to the tournament. Senegal and Egypt had a play-off, with the two Liverpool wingers competing for a place in Qatar. Now neither will be there.
Of course, Mané is far from the only world star not at the tournament through injury. Karim Benzema joined the list this weekend, meaning neither of the Ballons d’Or top two will be there.