Virgil van Dijk says nobody can claim the title of best defender in the world

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Virgil van Dijk has put himself in the conversation for the best defender in the world with his performances for Liverpool this season.

The centre-back has been instrumental at the heart of defence for the Reds, helping them keep 18 clean sheets and concede just 20 goals - ranking first in both categories in the Premier League.

There may be some bias involved but Liverpool’s highly-rated youngster Ki-Jana Hoever believes Van Dijk is better than anyone else at the position.

“Virgil is the best defender in the world – and I can say that with 100 percent certainty,” the 17-year-old told the Mirror.

“He seems to be right all the time. I wonder, at those moments, why I did not see that or why I was not in that position before. That, for me, is pure class.”

Hoever isn’t alone in that thought. Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels said in January that the Netherlands international is the best centre-back in the game.

Dietmar Hamann, Chris Sutton and Paul Merson have also reached the same conclusion.


Van Dijk: It's all about opinions

But Van Dijk himself has distanced himself from the conversation, insisting that “nobody can claim that title”.

“Nobody can really claim that title - it's just about opinions,” Van Dijk said about being named the best defender, per the Liverpool Echo.

“We just need to enjoy it when players are doing well for their teams and I'm feeling good at the moment.

“Obviously there are a lot of expectations when you come to a club for a record fee but you can't change that.

“You just need to perform and show it on the pitch and gain respect through that. I've tried to do that since day one and it's been going all right.”

Liverpool FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League

The likes of Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Kalidou Koulibaly are among the leading defenders and Van Dijk admits he enjoys watching his peers in action.

“There are plenty of good central defenders around and I enjoy watching them,” the 27-year-old added.

“If I watch big games like the Champions League on TV then I'm definitely watching what different centre-backs are doing in certain situations.”

There’s no doubt that there are many defenders around the world who are also studying Van Dijk closely.

At the moment, there may not be a better centre-back to learn from.

Virgil van Dijk
Sadio Mane
Mohamed Salah
Sergio Ramos
Raphael Varane
Premier League

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