Among Virgil van Dijk’s many attributes is his calmness.
There was a moment during Liverpool’s 3-1 win against Brighton on Wednesday where, if another defender was in Van Dijk’s position, Liverpool fans might have been a bit anxious.
A lofted pass was played through and Van Dijk was there to defend Brighton’s Aaron Connolly.
A mistake and Connolly would have been one-on-one with Alisson Becker. But Van Dijk rarely makes mistakes.
And he dealt with the situation so casually, erasing any danger by heading the ball to himself and passing the ball on.
A less talented defender and Connolly might have been in. But Van Dijk made the situation look very straightforward.
Still, there will be some out there claiming it wasn’t that difficult and required just some basic defending.
Nemanja Vidic won’t be one of them.
When United travelled to Liverpool in 2009, a long ball forward left Vidic in a panic as Dirk Kuyt threatened to race clear.
Vidic hesitated before realising he was in a mess. He grabbed Kuyt and was sent off for denying the Dutchman a clear goalscoring chance.
Turns out it’s not that easy.
Van Dijk has established himself as the world’s best defender since his arrival at Liverpool in 2018 and it’s thanks to moments like his defending vs Brighton that Liverpool are celebrating a maiden Premier League title.
He’s head and shoulders ahead of every other player in his position.
Honestly, tell us what weaknesses that the 29-year-old has. What can’t he do?
It’s no wonder a host of strikers have lavished praise on Van Dijk after playing against him.
“He is a defender who knows how to judge his timing and wait for the right moment to challenge or jockey [the attacker],” Barcelona’s Lionel Messi told Marca.
“He is very fast and big, but he has a lot of agility for his height.”
Watford striker Troy Deeney even went so far as to admit he hates playing against Van Dijk.
“I’ve said it many times, I hate him,” the Wattford striker told BBC Radio 5 Live in 2018, per the Daily Mail. “I hate going up against him.
“He’s too big, too strong, too quick, too good on the ball, loves fighting, a good head of hair.”
At least he’s honest.
Click HERE to read other tales from strikers after challenging Van Dijk.
Van Dijk may not have as much silverware as the likes of Vidic, Sergio Ramos, John Terry and co., but based on ability, he’s up there with the very best of them.
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