Van Dijk, 29, hobbled off injured during the Reds’ 2-2 draw away at Everton last Saturday, having shipped a heavy challenge from Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford at Goodison Park.
Early signs appeared to suggest the Dutchman could spend up to eight months on the sidelines with an ACL injury, coming as a major blow to Jurgen Klopp and his Premier League champions.
But according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, Van Dijk’s problem could even extend beyond the ACL and leave him out of action for a longer period than expected.
Speaking on his ‘Ask Ornstein’ feature on YouTube, Ornstein claimed the latest revelation suggests “we won’t see Van Dijk on a pitch until next season” in a shattering update for Liverpool fans.
The centre-back is now set to undergo surgery on his knee, although it is unclear when that procedure will go ahead.
He has proved instrumental in the club’s Premier League and Champions League success over the past two seasons, meaning Klopp will almost certainly need to dip into the January transfer window to find a suitable replacement.
Reports suggest Brighton star Ben White is on the Reds’ radar, having scored ‘excellent data metrics’ on the tracking tools at Anfield.
Nevertheless, Klopp was left seething after Pickford escaped punishment for his challenge on Van Dijk over the weekend, saying ahead of their Champions League clash with Ajax tonight: “A few days ago something that should not have happened in a football game, happened.
“It was not the first time and it won't be the last, but both challenges were difficult to accept.
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“We can't change this now. I spoke the day after and it's hard for us as Virgil is our boy. It is difficult to take because the referee doesn't see it.
“Michael Oliver is an excellent referee but he had the best view. Then VAR forgets the rules. As a human, I don't want to see Everton players punished, but we all agree if you do something wrong, you have to deal with consequences.”