Van Dijk: Kane's fitness held him back in Champions League final
The Tottenham striker could have another shot at the Liverpool defender when England face Netherlands in the Nations League
Virgil van Dijk believes Harry Kane’s lack of match fitness hindered him mentally during Liverpool’s 2-0 Champions League final win over Tottenham.
Centre-back Van Dijk crowned a brilliant individual season by being named man of the match at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Kane was largely ineffective on his first appearance for almost two months following an ankle injury.
The pair could face off once again on Thursday, when the Netherlands take on England in their Nations League Finals semi-final in Guimaraes.
“Harry Kane is a fantastic striker, I think one of the best in England. And I think he’s definitely the best striker England have for the national team,” Van Dijk told a pre-match news conference.
“But I also know that if you’re not 100 per cent fit, then it’s going to be in your head if you get a little knock or you pass and you get a little bit of pain.
“It’s going to be in your head, so obviously I expected him to play the final, but I knew he was not going to be 100 per cent.
“I don’t know if he’s playing tomorrow, but if he is, then we’ll see how we’re going to manage.”
Speaking later on at his own briefing, England manager Gareth Southgate was not about to give an extensive public take on Kane’s Champions League final showing.
“I don’t think it’s for me to comment on club performances in individual games because that then leads me into talking about other coaches and other players and they’re not my team,” he said.
“Of course I was at the game and wanted to see how it played out. A lot of the service that went into Harry, he wasn’t favourite when it was arriving in his area.”
The winner of the match between England and the Netherlands will face Portugal in the final, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick saw his side past Switzerland 3-1 on Wednesday.
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