Virgil van Dijk has been a commanding — even transcendent — presence at the heart of Liverpool’s defense throughout the team’s rise to the top of English and European soccer in recent years.

In a major concern for the Premier League champions, they might have to learn how to cope without their warrior at the back for quite some time.

Early in what proved to be a painful Merseyside derby for Liverpool, Van Dijk was the subject of a reckless lunge by Jordan Pickford that saw the Everton goalkeeper clatter into the extended right leg of the Netherlands defender.

Van Dijk roared in agony and, tellingly, stayed down. And that was when Jürgen Klopp knew it was serious.

“Virgil played I don’t know how many games

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