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Wijnaldum blasts Pickford for 'completely stupid' Van Dijk tackle

19:33 BST 20/10/2020
Jordan Pickford Virgil Van Dijk 2020
The Liverpool midfielder was left incensed by the Everton goalkeeper's challenge during Saturday's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park

Gini Wijnaldum has slammed Jordan Pickford for the “completely stupid” tackle which left Virgil van Dijk sidelined for months with a knee injury.

The Liverpool midfielder believes the Everton goalkeeper’s challenge was “unacceptable” and suggested it was part of an ongoing theme in which Everton “take it way too far” with their tackles in Merseyside derbies.

Van Dijk could miss the rest of the season after suffering damage to his anterior cruciate ligament following Pickford’s wild lunge in the early stages of Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park. 

His absence will hit Liverpool hard, and on Tuesday afternoon Wijnaldum was in no mood to mince his words at a press conference to preview his side’s Champions League clash with Ajax. 

He said: “First of all, we are all still devastated. I think it’s different than normal. The way it happened was really hard for us and I think everyone still has a really bad feeling about it.

“When we were speaking with the lads after Saturday, I think none of the players slept after what happened with Virgil, because of the way it happened. It’s a really hard one to take for me, and also for the team.

“Of course we were upset. The way Pickford went in on the challenge, in my opinion, was completely stupid. I believe that he didn’t want to injure Virgil the way he did, but the way he took the tackle was that he didn’t care about what happened after the tackle.

“I think we had it a lot in games against Everton. In my opinion, they take it way too far in the games we play against them. We know it’s a derby and everyone wants to win but sometimes you go over the top. It was too much.

“It was not only his tackle. If you talk about the tackle of Richarlison on Thiago, it was also a nasty one. That’s what bothers me the most and I think most of the other players. 

“Accidents can always happen in football. You can be unlucky with a tackle and injure someone but the way they were doing it was completely unacceptable.

“It makes it harder that they don’t get punished. In this case Pickford after seeing the videos.”

On how Liverpool will deal with Van Dijk’s absence going forward, Wijnaldum added: "Virgil is a really important player in our team - he has showed that since he came in. He had big performances. He is important on and off the pitch.

"He is a leader in the team. Since he came in we had really good results. It's up to us to show that we can still put in good performances without Virgil. We have to."