Steve Defour wasn’t really supposed to be at Burnley this season. Open about a potential exit last summer, the Belgian was expected, in his home country, to be leaving the Premier League behind him.
But no offer attractive enough came in and Defour stuck around, with things going rather well for him. A good season in the Premier League was all set to be followed by a trip to Russia for the World Cup, but then injury struck.
An operation to remove cartilage from Defour’s knee sees him potentially out for the rest of the season. There’s a chance he could return and be ready for the World Cup but it’s very much in the balance.
Back in Belgium, Defour has been speaking to De Morgen about his situation and revealed the knee problem had actually been around for a while.
“About three months ago I first felt pain in my left knee. I had an ultrasound and it showed there was fluid in the fat pad of the knee, they drained out the moisture and I could play again until the home match against Manchester United on January 20th.
“Fifteen minutes before the end I blocked a Martial shot and immediately I felt a huge pain. Then an MRI scan was made in the hospital, after which the doctor said: ‘I fear that it is worse than expected.’ A piece of cartilage was floating in the knee.”
Defour was naturally devastated and called a Belgium doctor to ask for a second opinion. The Burnley star was told he could avoid surgery but then his knee could flare up again just before the World Cup. Another call to Roberto Martinez followed, and the manager told Defour that while he had been in his Russia plans it was more important to look after the rest of his career.
De Morgen asked Defour if his World Cup dream is totally dead and the Burnley player said he’d need to get match fitness before the tournament, adding: “The doctors do not exclude that I am fit in early June. It was a clean operation and the piece of cartilage was not that big.”
The Belgian newspaper then put it to Defour that ‘sh*t happens’, and he responded: “I know, but this is really uncomfortable now, four months before the World Cup and after such a good season with Burnley… See me sitting … I have to walk on crutches for six weeks now because I’m not allowed to do anything.”
A high level of competition in the Premier League may prove a negative for Belgium come the summer, and Defour explained: “I really believe that the heavy calendar has consequences in years of an EC or a World Cup, Hazard, De Bruyne, Vertonghen, Moussa, Romelu… I’m afraid that they will all be empty by the middle of May, I hope Martínez will give them enough rest before joining the national team.”
Defour was then asked about his future and whether he’ll be signing up with Burnley again soon: “I think that’s negotiable, I’m happy now in Burnley. Next season is basically my last over there (Defour’s contract ends in 2019). I’m 30 in April. This is an age when I probably could sign one large contract. If Burnley makes a proposal which I can agree, why I would not stay here? Then return to Belgium to end my career.”