Virgil van Dijk vs Sergio Ramos: Comparing the prime seasons of Liverpool and PSG stars

  • Kobe Tong

Virgil van Dijk and Sergio Ramos are two of the greatest defenders of the modern era.

The emergence of Van Dijk as one of the world’s best centre-backs at Liverpool in recent years has seen him compared to other icons of the position – and Ramos has been a part of this trend.

Besides, Van Dijk’s rise at Anfield happened at such a dizzying pace that it felt difficult to register where he stood in the recent history of great centre-halves and defenders.

Van Dijk’s rise to power

There were barely two years between Van Dijk being unveiled as Liverpool’s new £75 million signing and the Dutchman coming within a nose hair of beating Lionel Messi to the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

As such, you could close your eyes and swing a stick on social media and it would be guaranteed that you would hit some corner or thread of the community comparing Van Dijk to another icon.

Trust me, we here at GIVEMESPORT know better than most that many supporters are invested in comparisons between Van Dijk and Nemanja Vidic, for example.

Van Dijk vs Ramos

However, the lesser-spotted Van Dijk vs Ramos debate is just as fascinating and especially because it’s much harder to make a direct comparison when you consider their varying footballing journeys.

While Van Dijk and Vidic both plied their trade in the Premier League, Ramos has only just left La Liga in the past few months having evolved from a right-back at the highest level of Spanish football.

Nevertheless, one way in which we can compare Ramos and Van Dijk is through the use of statistics and the comparison tool over on WhoScored is the perfect way to achieve exactly that.

And given their widely differing career spans, we thought the fairest way to compare the two defensive colossuses would be by focusing in on what we consider to be their prime seasons.

Comparing prime seasons

For Van Dijk, that’s pretty straight-forward because the Champions League-winning 2018/19 season – in which he wasn’t even dribbled past once in club football – thrust him into Ballon d’Or contention.

And although Ramos has more than a few contenders for his peak campaign, we’re inclined to think that the 2016/17 term in which he won the Champions League and La Liga crowns takes the cake.

Finishing sixth in the Ballon d’Or voting, Ramos was also named as La Liga and UEFA’s best defender and captained Los Blancos to FIFA Club World Cup glory for good measure.

So, how do those two seasons stack up against each other? Well, let’s find out by looking at their Premier League and La Liga data first across attacking, defending and passing metrics below:


You’ve got to say that Van Dijk has the upper hand there.

Van Dijks holds his own

Not only does the Liverpool man have the higher average match rating, but he boasts more Man of the Match awards and assists as well as averaging fewer fouls, yellow cards and own goals.

Combine that with having been dribbled past less, matching Ramos for blocks, outdoing him for clearances and generally being a more accurate passes to see that the Liverpool star shines. 

But what about the Champions League data from those seasons? Interestingly, it’s actually a little closer with Ramos producing an overall rating of 7.26 to overwhelm Van Dijk’s total of 7.08.

Ramos also won one more Man of the Match awards than his Liverpool rival in Europe, but Van Dijk did outdo him at the other end of the pitch by chipping in with two goals and two assists.


Fair play, Virgil, fair play

However, on the whole, the moral of the story is that Van Dijk more than holds his own against what might well be the best version of one of the finest defenders to have played professional football.

That alone is something to be incredibly proud of because it feels like yesterday that every Premier League fan and their dog was baffled by how much Liverpool sent to sign him in the first place.

But when his first full season in red competed with a prime Ramos, then it’s fair to say that Liverpool can feel pretty relaxed about the hole they blew in their bank account to make him a Kopite.



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