Virgil van Dijk vs John Terry: Who is the Premier League's greatest centre-back?

Virgil van Dijk and John Terry are widely considered to be among the greatest centre-backs in Premier League history.

Terry, former Chelsea and England captain, was a colossus of a defender and the perfect epitome of traditional centre-half – although he could certainly play, too.

Meanwhile, Van Dijk’s career has been more of a slow-burner, but his £75 million switch to Liverpool in January 2018 thrust him into the spotlight and uncoincidentally led to him being considered the world’s greatest in his position.

Who, though, is the better player? Let’s first start by taking a look at their careers.

John Terry’s career

Terry was a Chelsea man through and through. The legendary Englishman made his debut for the club in a League Cup tie in 1998 against Aston Villa.

He would go on to make a staggering 715 appearances for the club, scoring an impressive 67 goals.

Terry was appointed club captain in 2004 when under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho and remained their talismanic leader all the way up until he moved on 13 years later.

By the time he’d shook the responsibility he was the most successful Chelsea captain of all time, having led the club to five Premier League titles and a single Champions League win – domestic cup honours were all but a formality throughout Terry’s reign, too.

Some resume, huh?

John Terry Chelsea
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 21: John Terry of Chelsea poses with the Premier League Trophy after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Virgil van Dijk’s career

Van Dijk has had a somewhat different route to the top and is still some way off Terry when it comes to team achievements.

Being born in the city of Breda, Netherlands, Van Dijk began his senior career for FC Groningen in the Eredivisie.

After two seasons in the Netherlands’ top-flight, Celtic smartly swooped in and secured Van Dijk’s services for £2.7 million and the towering Dutchman would spend a further two seasons playing in Glasgow.

He was then bought by Southampton for £14 million and then eventually by Liverpool for £75 million – so it’s been quite the process for Van Dijk who had to wait until he was 26 to reach the top.

His presence seen he’s been at Liverpool, though, has been unrivalled. He’s arguably been the Reds’ most important figure throughout the last four seasons and he’s been instrumental in guiding the club to their first Premier League title in 30 years, three Champions League finals (winning one), and domestic cup glory.

Significantly, his level of performance over the past four years has led many to suggest that we’ve never seen a defender of the kind before.

Van Dijk Liverpool

Graphic compares Terry & Van Dijk’s performance

So, with that in mind, a rather intriguing graphic has been circulating on socials that compares the two Premier League greats.

Check it out below:

As you can see, the Dutchman takes the cake in every single category from successful actions to defensive challenges which really just goes to show how formidable a player he is.

His pass completion rate of 91% is also seriously impressive given the amount of times he looks to switch the play every game towards Mohamed Salah.

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If you’re a Chelsea fan, don’t fear, no one is trying to suggest that Van Dijk is more of a legend than Terry – he’s still got some way to go in that department…

But on sheer performance levels, well, there’s only one winner.

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