In another world, Virgil van Dijk is playing at Euro 2020 with the Netherlands. Perhaps missing the group games, but Frank de Boer has decided to name him in the squad, giving him more time to recover from injury before putting him in for the crucial knockout games.
We know, of course, that is not the case. Van Dijk , and he joins a host of Liverpool players who will be not playing this June and July. It’s a gift for Liverpool, and it allows Jurgen Klopp to focus on getting players ready for the new season in mid-August.
It’s undeniable that the Euros will have a big impact on teams’ preparations for the new Premier League season. The Final is on 11thJuly, for instance, and Liverpool’s players are expected to report for preseason training on the 12th. And, don’t forget, there was barely a pre-season at all last summer. Players are badly in need of a break.
Liverpool sending half as many players to Euros as rivals
To illustrate the advantage that Liverpool could have, let’s take a look at the players at the Euros from Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City:
Liverpool: Shaqiri, Henderson, Jota, Thiago, Robertson, Wilson, Williams (7)
Chelsea: Jorginho, Emerson, Christensen, Havertz, Mount, James, Chilwell, Werner, Giroud, Kante, Zouma, Rudiger, Gilmour, Azpilicueta, Kovacic(15)
City: De Bruyne, Walker, Stones, Sterling, Foden, Torres, Garcia, Rodri, Laporte, Silva, Dias, Cancelo, Gundogan, Ake, Zinchenko (15)
And, if you want another comparison – Liverpool sent 12 players to Euro 2016 squads, which was the joint-most [with Juventus] for any team at the tournament.
Now, in a perfect world, Henderson would be sitting beside Van Dijk on a couch watching the games at home to allow more time to recover from his injury. But you have to say there is quite a stark contrast between who Liverpool is sending and the number of Chelsea and City players.
In addition, it is important to mention the nations they are represented. In the predictions for Euro 2020 on the MansionBet blog, the writers almost unanimously tipped England to reach the Final [most backed France to win, however]. There’s obviously a lot of representation for the 3 Lions from Chelsea and City, and only Henderson from Liverpool.
Portugal, Spain and Germany – again with plenty of City and Chelsea players – will also be expected to go deep into the competition. Again, you are only talking about two players in total from the Liverpool squad. With all due respect to Wales, Switzerland and Scotland, few expect them to go very deep into the tournament.
Copa America is in doubt
We should, of course, address the elephant in the room – the Copa America. Firmino, Allison and Fabinho could also do with a break. But at the time of writing, there is a real concern that the event won’t go ahead. It probably will in the end. But you have to say that, on balance, Liverpool fans can be happy that a large number of players will not be playing over the next four weeks.
Mo Salah and Sadio Mane have the summer off for the first time in years. Van Dijk will be joined by Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip as players given some extra time to recover from injury. Even Henderson’s inclusion in the England squad might be a boon as it will give him the opportunity to build up some match fitness. This is all good news, and it might just hand Liverpool the advantage in the early part of the 2021/22 Premier League season.