Virgil van Dijk: Messi & Haaland among 10 forwards to have summed up Liverpool man's brilliance

Erling Haaland is one of 10 forwards that have praised Van Dijk

Erling Haaland has spoken once again of just how highly he rates Virgil van Dijk.

The Dortmund superstar has come up against the Liverpool centre-back multiple times in his short career.

And he was in no doubt when asked who his toughest ever opponent was.

“You know how tall he is, how strong he is and how fast he is, and also the timing is crazy,” he told ESPN about Van Dijk.

“I don’t think I won one duel against him because he’s a physical monster.”

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Haaland is one of many forwards that have summed up Van Dijk’s brilliance in the past.

View eight other forwards that have been full of praise for the Dutch centre-back below…

Lionel Messi

Speaking to Marca in 2019, Messi said of Van Dijk: “He is a defender who knows how to judge his timing and wait for the right moment to challenge or jockey [the attacker].

“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

Aguero told El Chiringuito, per Goal. “We all know Van Dijk is one of the best centre-backs in the world. 

“He’s very strong face to face, he plays with his body.  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.”

Sergio Aguero and Virgil van Dijk in action during Liverpool vs Man City

Tammy Abraham

Abraham is emerging into a top striker out in Italy with Roma. He came up against Van Dijk plenty of times during his spell at Chelsea and was often left frustrated.

“He’s a beast. He’s experienced. His understanding of the game is top drawer,” Abraham said, per the Liverpool Echo.

“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!”

Michail Antonio

“The best defender I’ve ever played against is Virgil van Dijk,” the 31-year-old said on the Footballer’s Football podcast in December 2021, per the Liverpool Echo.

“He’s quick, he’s strong, he’s good on the ball. And he’s good looking! The man’s got it all. I don’t know what I can say that would be negative about the man. On the football field, he’s basically perfect.

“When I play against him, I don’t play against him. I avoid him and go to his partner and try and have an easier ride.”

Virgil van Dijk and Michail Antonio in action during West Ham vs Liverpool

Glenn Murray

Murray, who retired in 2021, thinks he was ‘treated like a boy’ by the Liverpool centre-back.

“I think he’s just a step above the rest and it has shown in Liverpool’s success since he has joined the club,” Murray said, per football365.

“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.

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

Alvaro Morata

Morata named Van Dijk as one of the three best defenders in the world back in 2020.

He told AS: “When you go against Van Dijk it seems like you hit a mountain.”

Virgil van Dijk and Alvaro Morata during Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid

Troy Deeney

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

Oli McBurnie

McBurnie made his Premier League debut in 2019 and he quickly realised how hard it was to play against Van Dijk.

He told the Sheffield Star in 2020: “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!’.”

Oli McBurnie and Virgil van Dijk in action during Sheffield United vs Liverpool

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha went as far as suggesting that Van Dijk was tougher to play against than Man United legend, Rio Ferdinand.

“He’s fast, calm, strong. He’s got everything,” he told Jamie Carragher on the Greatest Game Podcast in 2021, per the Liverpool Echo. “Obviously Rio [Ferdinand] was just composed to the next level, but I feel like Virgil has everything down to a tee.

“Like to the point where he can muck about when a ball comes over the top and flick it around the striker and stuff and he’s fast enough to get back on to it.

“When we play against Liverpool it’s like, how am I going to get around this guy?”

Very few players come up against Van Dijk and get the better of him. He really is a special defender.

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