A Dutch journalist has claimed that Jordan Pickford is ‘responsible’ for the ‘demise’ of Liverpool and Netherlands star Virgil van Dijk.
The central defender played the full 90 minutes on Sunday night as his national side cruised to a 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland in their Euro 2024 qualifiers.
It was a solid display from the Liverpool defender, who has struggled to reproduce the same form that saw him come runner in the Ballon d’Or voting back in 2019.
One key factor for that would be the knee injury van Dijk suffered in October 2020, which one journalist believes has had a lasting impact on the defender’s career.
According to journalist Henk Spaan, the Liverpool defender has not been the same player since picking up that injury in the Merseyside derby three years ago.
In that match, Everton’s Pickford came surging out of his goal and clattered into Liverpool defender Van Dijk in a scissors motion, crunching the outstretched knee of the Dutchman.
Van Dijk immediately collapsed in a heap and needed extensive treatment in the area, before having no option but to leave the field.
It was an injury that left the 32-year-old sidelined for 254 days and one that has continued to trouble him since.
Reflecting on the issue, Spann said: ‘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.
‘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. 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.’
Other stars at the time, such as midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, chimed in to show support for the defender and claimed that Pickford’s tackle was ‘stupid’.
‘The way Pickford went into the challenge was completely, in my opinion, stupid,’ Wijnaldum said.
‘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’.