Virgil van Dijk: How Aguero, Haaland and Messi reacted after facing the Liverpool star

  • Tom Ward
Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland share their experiences of playing against Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has committed his future to the club ahead of their Premier League opener against Norwich City.

The Dutch centre-back, who joined from Southampton in 2017, suffered a nasty knee injury against Everton in the Merseyside derby in October 2020 but has since made a full recovery. 

And the Anfield giants confirmed this morning the Netherlands international has agreed a contract extension, much to the delight of many supporters across the country.  

A statement on said: “Virgil van Dijk has today signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool Football Club.

“The centre-back committed his future to the Reds by putting pen to paper at Anfield on Friday morning, ensuring his three-and-a-half-year association with the club will be prolonged well into the coming years.”

The 30-year-old added: “It is something to be very proud of, that I am very proud of, that my wife and my kids are very proud of and obviously my agency.

“All the hard work we’ve put in so far continues and I am looking forward to what the future brings together with Liverpool. I’m delighted, very happy and proud.”

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Van Dijk moved to Merseyside in 2017 after impressing for the Saints and has since made almost 100 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the English top flight.  

With the Premier League almost upon us, GIVEMESPORT has dug up some of the best quotes over the years from some of those who have been stopped in their tracks by one of the best centre-backs in the world. 

Lionel Messi
(Speaking to Spanish publication Marca in October 2019) 

“He is a defender who knows how to judge his timing and wait for the right moment to challenge or jockey.

“He is very fast and big, but he has a lot of agility for his height.

“He is fast because of his great stride, and he is impressive both in defence and attack because he scores lots of goals.”

Sergio Aguero
(Speaking to Spanish talk show El Chiringuito, via Goal, in May 2020)

“We all know Van Dijk is one of the best centre-backs in the world. He’s strong, tall, has an incredible body.

“He’s very strong face to face, he plays with his body. Also, given he is so tall, he has those long legs.

“It looks like he isn’t fast but he is, because of his long legs – he can reach everywhere. Two steps from him are 50 for me!

“What I like the most is the way he is so smart when defending. He’s not anxious when marking, he’s very careful and patient. That makes it difficult for many strikers.

“In my case, I’m pretty fast and I like to dribble, so I need the defender to come. But if he holds he can wait for help from another defender. He’s very good at this.”

Erling Haaland
(Speaking to French publication France Football in March 2020)

“He is so good, he is powerful, quick, he possesses all the qualities. He is an incredible player.”

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Alvaro Morata
(Speaking to Spanish publication AS in April 2020)

“[Giorgio] Chiellini, I don’t know if he does it on purpose, but when he meets me, he always destroys me.

“Sergio Ramos is also a tough defender, while when you go against Van Dijk it seems like you hit a mountain.”

Troy Deeney
(Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live in September 2018)

“I’ve said it many times, I hate him, 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.”

Tammy Abraham
(Speaking to the Liverpool Echo in October 2019)

“He’s a beast. He’s just good at what he does. He’s experienced. I try to do a little… I try to use my tricks in my head but his understanding of the game is top drawer.

“It is to do with little things. Movement. My movement in the box, some defenders don’t pay attention to me – they are only focused on the ball.

“With him, it’s kind of both, he’s paying attention to me and the ball, knows where I am, knows where I want to go, follows me.

“It’s quite annoying for a striker – just leave me alone!”

Glenn Murray
(Speaking to Sky Sports in March 2020)

“First and foremost, he is just a man mountain, isn’t he?! I mean he treated me like a 12-year-old boy. He just moves you out of the way.

“I think it’s his all-round game and his reading of the game.

“When you put somebody in defence and he makes those around him better, I think that’s the real test of a true great.”

“He’s been such a huge signing for them.”

Oli McBurnie
(Speaking to the Sheffield Star in April 2020) 

“It took me a few months to get up to speed. I had to do gym for the first time in my life!

“I bounced off Van Dijk and realised I needed to do a bit of bench press. He had everything and I felt like a little girl against him.

“I’m skinnier than a lot of defenders so when the ball goes up in the air, I give them a nudge in the air and that’s always worked, at any level.

“I tried it with Van Dijk. He was off-balance, and I still bounced straight off him. I thought: ‘I’ll have to go and play off Joel Matip here instead!’.”

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