Virgil van Dijk vs Nemanja Vidic: Premier League stats compare Liverpool & Man Utd heroes

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Nemanja Vidic and Virgil van Dijk are certified Premier League legends.

Vidic is not just one of Manchester United's greatest ever defenders, but he's one of their finest ever players, period, winning five league titles and the Champions League across eight glorious years.

The Serbian endures as the only defender to be named as Premier League Player of the Season twice and his partnership with Rio Ferdinand is revered as one of the strongest in football history.

Two legendary Premier League defenders

And it is, therefore, the greatest compliment to Van Dijk that his achievements at Liverpool have seen him compared to the United icon with fans bases going back and forth about the pair online.

Van Dijk is arguably the most complete centre-back in Premier League with his Rolls Royce playing style and eye for an outrageous diagonal pass making him a Swiss Army knife in the back-line.

However, the online era being the online era, we can't simply appreciate both players for their respective brilliance and instead need to compare them to try and see who was better.

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Vidic vs Van Dijk debate

Naturally, it's a premise that has no end of complications because Vidic and Van Dijk not only played in very different teams, but in contrasting eras through which a defender's role has evolved.

In other words, don't think for a second that we're proclaiming to have found an objective, iron-clad answer to the Vidic vs Van Dijk debate, but rather, we've probably come as close as possible.

In order to take personal bias and the contrasting career lengths of the two players, we're looking at their Premier League statistics from their greatest ever seasons to see who comes out on top.

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Vidic vs Van Dijk by prime season stats

For Van Dijk, we're taking the 2018/19 campaign in which he won the Champions League, finished second in the Ballon d'Or voting to Lionel Messi and wasn't dribbled past once in club football.

And for Vidic, we're calling upon the 2008/09 season in which he was named the division's best player, shipped just 24 goals and went a staggering 1,311 minutes without conceding in the league.

A pretty incredible match-up, right? Well, from there we used the Premier League's official player comparison tool and compared their defensive statistics from their prime seasons - check it out:

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Wowsers. I bet you weren't expecting it to be quite so conclusive.

Massive win for Vidic

As far as defensive statistics are concerned, there can be no disputing that Vidic's 2008/09 season trumps Van Dijk's 2018/19 effort with the United star winning almost every metric.

Vidic amassed more clean sheets, conceded fewer goals, gave away less penalties and racked up more blocks, interceptions, tackles, successful tackles, last-man tackles and clearances.

In fact, the only area in which Van Dijk comes out on top is aerial battles won with own goals and errors leading to goal both ending in a draw between the Premier League greats.

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Now, yes, the whopping caveat here is that statistics aren't everything and nobody genuinely believes that Vidic was as far superior to Van Dijk as the data would have you believe.

That being said, for my money, Vidic still has the edge on his Liverpool rival, but there's no denying that Van Dijk is one of the greatest defenders that the Premier League has ever seen.

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