Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk analysed his world-class defending with Rio Ferdinand

Liverpool's Van Dijk in training.

Virgil van Dijk is one of the greatest defenders of the modern era.

The Liverpool juggernaut has never looked back since he put pen to paper on a £75-million move to Anfield during the 2017/18 season, making his long-awaited step up after spells with Celtic and Southampton.

It was instantly a match made in heaven with Van Dijk bringing the defensive solidity that Jurgen Klopp’s men had been crying out for with his dominating presence bringing a sense of calm to his teammates.

The world-class defending of Van Dijk

During his first six months on Merseyside, Van Dijk helped inspire Liverpool to the Champions League final, before truly elevating himself to the status of a modern great during the 2018/19 campaign.

Not only did the Dutchman go one step further and win the European crown with Liverpool, but he was so scintillating on an individual basis that he was only narrowly pipped to Ballon d’Or glory by Lionel Messi.

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Thiago was born in which country?

Considering that a defender hadn’t won France Football’s iconic prize since Fabio Cannavaro captained Italy to the World Cup in 2006, the magnitude of Van Dijk’s achievement couldn’t be undersold.

Throw in Premier League, Carabao Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup triumphs ever since and it’s fair to say that Van Dijk ranks amongst the very best male defenders of the 21st century.

Newcastle 0-1 Liverpool Match Reaction (Football Terrace)

Van Dijk’s analysis with Rio Ferdinand

So, to say that any and every opportunity to mine Van Dijk’s knowledge on defending is a valuable one would be the mother of all understatements with Rio Ferdinand getting the opportunity to do exactly that.

That’s because the Manchester United legend – who is most certainly a defensive icon in his own right – had the chance to pick Van Dijk’s brains for an episode of ‘Between The Lines’ slated for release later this month.

In what looks like a thoroughly fascinating tactical breakdown on BT Sport, Ferdinand had all the technology and footage at his finger tips to create a tactical masterclass with Van Dijk that the world can see.

Liverpool's Van Dijk warms up.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Newcastle United v Liverpool – St James’ Park, Newcastle, Britain – April 30, 2022 Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

And while we don’t doubt for a second that the entire programme is wall-to-wall entertainment, the teaser clip alone felt like enough to have footballing hipsters tightening their bowties in unbridled excitement.

With everything from Van Dijk analysing his legendary defending against Tottenham Hotspur to hypothesising that Everton players gave him too much respect, there’s plenty for fans to sink their teeth into already.

So, if you want to mop up some sweet, sweet knowledge from one legendary defender speaking to another – why wouldn’t you? – then be sure to check out the gripping snippet down below:

Yeh, so, can we have the whole programme now please?

The staggering football IQ of Van Dijk

There is so much tactical jargon and strategic approaches that never gets explained to the public in modern football, meaning that it’s always fascinating to get a glimpse behind the curtain whenever it’s possible.

Whether that’s the ‘All or Nothing’ documentaries or Van Dijk having an honest chat with Ferdinand, there’s something about learning more on the minutia of world-class football that is so, so interesting.

Besides, that clip alone makes you realise just how viciously intelligent Van Dijk is in the midst of split-second decisions where he’s analysing the shooting ability of Moussa Sissoko and Heung-min Son.

Van Dijk as Liverpool captain.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool – Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, Britain – December 4, 2021 Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk wears the captains arm band after Jordan Henderson was substituted Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Nobody is under any illusion that the best players in the world aren’t phenomenal athletes with complex footballing brains, but it’s another thing to have a look under the bonnet and see exactly how they pull it off.

And it just so happens that Van Dijk is better at it than almost everybody. Ever.

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