Virgil van Dijk raises player welfare issue again after Joel Matip ACL injury

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk has revealed the team was 'devastated' by the news of Joel Matip's injury, while once again raising the issue of footballers' welfare.

Matip became the latest Liverpool casualty this season, after he was subbed off in the Reds' 1-1 draw with Manchester City at the end of last month.

Initial signs suggested the 32-year-old had suffered a serious knee injury, with Jurgen Klopp confirming after the 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Wednesday night that the centre back had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

Klopp told reporters: “It’s an ACL, ruptured, so that’s what I unfortunately expected from the first second. Everything looked like that. Very unfortunate.”

The injury likely rules Matip out for the rest of the 2023/24 season and there is now a very real chance the former Schalke defender, who is in the final year of his Anfield contract, has played his last game for Liverpool.

Joel Matip, ProShots

Joel Matip, ProShots

Speaking to Amazon Prime, Van Dijk was asked about his teammate, commenting that the whole Liverpool team were 'devastated' by the news.

He added: “That’s a sign as well; we have so many injuries going around in world football, it’s something we have to look at as well.”

Van Dijk has been a vocal advocate for player welfare amid growing concerns over how scheduling and increased fixture lists are impacting injury numbers.

According to data from sports intelligence agency Twenty First Group (via the Standard), there has been a 9.5% increase in the number of injuries in the Premier League in 2023/24 compared to the same point last season.

“In England we believe the schedules are too busy,” Van Dijk told reporters during the October international break. “The players are getting paid well but it should never come at the cost of our health.”

“We keep having to play more and more games. We as players should start saying something about it, contribute to a solution.”

Matip is joined by Alisson, Diogo Jota, Andy Robertson, Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago on the Reds' injury list ahead of Saturday's early kick-off against Crystal Palace.

Meanwhile, Alexis Mac Allister is also a doubt for the weekend, after limping off in the second half of the win over Sheffield United on Wednesday.

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