Wijnaldum shares Van Dijk’s Liverpool group WhatsApp message before Ajax win

Gini Wijnaldum has revealed the classy message that Virgil van Dijk delivered to his Liverpool teammates before their Champions League opener.

But the Reds midfielder explained that he has studiously avoided speaking to his close friend and Dutch international colleague about football – because of the pain it will cause as Van Dijk faces a long haul back to fitness.

Wijnaldum spoke after a gritty win over Ajax in their opening European group game, and he revealed that the defender still joined in the group chat, despite preparing to undergo surgery on his snapped knee ligaments.

“Virgil sent a message, he wished us good luck in the group chat on WhatsApp, he wished everyone well.

“But for me, I don’t think it is the right time to speak with Virgil about football – because football at this time is not the most important thing.

"I think for him and for me when we speak together the most important thing is his rehab and those things. So when I speak to him it is more about life than about football.

“It might change in a few months because then he will be far into his rehab, and can talk about the games. But for now it is definitely not the right time to speak about football with Virgil.”

The Dutch centre-half looks certain to miss most, if not all, of Liverpool’s European campaign this season, but the Reds showed they will not be easily dismayed by even such a huge loss, with a fighting win in Amsterdam.

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Liverpool got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds.

In terms of transfers the Reds have completed the signing of Thiago Alcantara and Wolves' Diogo Jota has arrived too, in a shock deal worth a potential £45million.

Youngster Ki-Jana Hoever is set to head to Wolves in a £10million deal, while Gini Wijnaldum continues to be linked with Barcelona. There's a lot to keep track of.

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And while Wijnaldum admitted they were far from their best, he thinks a winning start the Champions League gives Jurgen Klopp’s team a huge lift as they face an incredible schedule this season.

“It’s normally December we have games, games, games all along, but because of Covid we have to catch up with a lot of games. So you are trying to get through and be positive,” he explained.

“Last season we started with an away defeat and it gives a totally different feeling to what we have right now.

“Of course we could have done better in this game but those type of games when you don’t play as well as normal and you win, that is what we aim for. We found a way to win against a strong side.

“That gives you a really good feeling when you win games when you don’t play as good as you normally can. It gives you a lot of confidence and I hope we can keep doing that.”

Liverpool’s man of the match was Van Dijk’s stand in Fabinho, who produced an assured display, and Wijnaldum insists that the Reds squad has every faith in the Brazilian.

“Fabinho is a great centre back. The games he has played there you can see he is comfortable in that position and he has done well each time.

“We haven’t conceded any goals when he has played at centre back, so that’s a good sign. It is great he can play in different positions and he shows he is doing a good thing for the team playing there.”

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