'Virgil stay strong' - Depay sends message to injured Liverpool star after Lyon goal

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Memphis Depay Lyon 2020-21
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The Oranje star sent the touching message to his national team-mate, who faces a long road to recovery

Memphis Depay has shown his support for injured Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk with a touching gesture while playing for Lyon on Sunday.

After scoring the opening goal in the 4-1 Ligue 1 win against Monaco, Depay lifted his shirt to reveal a message for his Netherlands international team-mate: "Virgil stay strong my brother."

Van Dijk suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee after a clash with Everton's Jordan Pickford during the Merseyside derby earlier this month.

The Reds central defender will undergo surgery on the issue and is likely to miss the rest of the season, with six to nine months the usual absence for this type of injury.

Speaking to Telefoot after the match, Depay reiterated his support for Van Dijk and insisted he was focussed on Lyon despite rumours of a move to Barcelona during the last transfer window.

"I am very sad for Virgil," he said. He is our [Netherlands] captain. Losing him now is difficult, especially for him. But he's going to be even stronger when he comes back. Because he has a great mentality.

"I think it was a good first half. We started well, and after scoring, we controlled the game well. But we have to do a lot better than we did in the second half. We stopped playing, it was a poor 2nd act. But it was a great victory in the end.

"I have always been focused on OL, even in the transfer window. My future is no excuse for not doing my job. As a player, I always want to be my best and add something to the team."

Liverpool were forced to field midfielder Fabinho at centre-back alongside Joe Gomez in their recent Premier League clash against Sheffield United, with the Brazilian conceding a penalty in a 2-1 victory.

Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson thinks the Reds should target Wolves defender Conor Coady as a replacement for Van Dijk in January, with the England international having plenty of English top-flight experience.

"I would think Virgil will be out for the season," Lawrenson told The Argus. "I think it’s a write-off because you’ve got to get match fit and that’s almost impossible nowadays because they don’t play reserve team football.

"If Liverpool are going to pay big money for somebody in January, they want absolutely ready-made. Conor Coady has had loads of shouts and he is a very good organiser who has played lots of games in the Premier League."

Following the diagnosis for his injury, Van Dijk used social media to promise that he would return from his injury 'better, fitter and stronger'.

"This afternoon I met with a leading consultant to start the process of planning the finer details of my rehabilitation following the incident yesterday," Van Dijk wrote on Twitter.

"I'm now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible.

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"Despite the obvious disappointment, I'm a firm believer that within difficulty lies opportunity and with God's help I'm going to make sure I return better, fitter and stronger than ever before.

"In football, as in life, I believe everything happens for a reason and it's important to try and keep level-headed whether going through the highs or the lows. With the support of my wife, kids, family and everyone at Liverpool, I'm ready for the challenge ahead.

"I'd like to thank everyone for the messages of support. It's meant a huge amount to me and my family, and now I'll be doing everything possible to support my teammates in any way I can ahead of a big few weeks ahead as I take my own recovery day by day. I'll be back."