Tue. Aug 4th, 2020

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‘He’s the best in the world right now’: Rio Ferdinand praises Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk

3 min read

Rio Ferdinand described Liverpool‘s Virgil Van Dijk as the best defender in the world right now and one of the top five Premier League centre-backs of all-time.

The Dutchman has had another brilliant season at Anfield, guiding Jurgen Klopp‘s side to their Premier League title in 30 years and helping the Reds keep 15 clean sheets across the 2019-20 campaign.

And former Manchester United defender Ferdinand believes there is no-one better than Van Dijk at the moment due to the lack of quality in centre-halves nowadays.

Rio Ferdinand claims that Virigil Van Dijk (pictured) is the best defender in the world right now

Rio Ferdinand claims that Virigil Van Dijk (pictured) is the best defender in the world right now

Rio Ferdinand claims that Virigil Van Dijk (pictured) is the best defender in the world right now

Ferdinand also put Van Dijk on his list of the top five Premier League defenders of all time

Ferdinand also put Van Dijk on his list of the top five Premier League defenders of all time

Ferdinand also put Van Dijk on his list of the top five Premier League defenders of all time

Speaking on the Beautiful Game Podcast, Ferdinand said: ‘I love him. I think he’s the best in the world right now. 

‘He’s undoubtedly a top player but I think he’s not fighting against the depth of other central defenders that was in my era. 

‘If we were talking about top drawer centre-halves, I could name five, six, seven, eight, nine in my era, whereas I don’t think I could fill my whole hand in this era. 

‘And that’s no disrespect [to the current defenders] but we’re talking about top players here. 

‘Though I think in any era, he looks like a top player.’ 

The ex-Manchester United man said he would like to see Van Dijk come up against two strikers

The ex-Manchester United man said he would like to see Van Dijk come up against two strikers

The ex-Manchester United man said he would like to see Van Dijk come up against two strikers

Ferdinand claimed it would be interesting to play against teams who regularly play two strikers, to see how he would do in a one-versus-one situation against an attacking talent.

Playing against two forwards was a common theme during Ferdinand’s era, which lasted from 1995 to 2015. 

Ferdinand added: ‘The game’s a bit different now. The only thing I would like to see him [do] is play against two strikers. To see him up against two players and see him do 1v1 all the way through the ninety minutes, week to week. 

Ferdinand added that there are not a lot of quality defenders nowadays - apart from Van Dijk

Ferdinand added that there are not a lot of quality defenders nowadays - apart from Van Dijk

Ferdinand added that there are not a lot of quality defenders nowadays – apart from Van Dijk

‘When I was playing, you were playing against two strikers all the time. Whereas now you’ve got one striker and two wide men, leaving the full-backs to take care of the wide men and you’ve got two people taking care of one player. 

‘So you get time to breathe, time to relax a little bit and let your partner handle him for a little bit. 

‘I would like to see him in that environment. But I think he would still handle it.’

Ferdinand (left) compared Van Dijk to his Man United centre-back Nemanja Vidic (right)

Ferdinand (left) compared Van Dijk to his Man United centre-back Nemanja Vidic (right)

Ferdinand (left) compared Van Dijk to his Man United centre-back Nemanja Vidic (right)

The former Manchester United and England centre-back also named Van Dijk in his top five centre-backs in Premier League history, a list which also included his ex-Red Devils partner Nemanja Vidic. 

Ferdinand and Vidic were the heart of the Old Trafford club’s defence for eight years between 2006 and 2014 and won five league titles together. 

The 41-year-old’s international centre-back partner, John Terry, was also included in the list.  

Ferdinand included John Terry (right) in a list of top-five Premier League defenders of all time

Ferdinand included John Terry (right) in a list of top-five Premier League defenders of all time

Ferdinand included John Terry (right) in a list of top-five Premier League defenders of all time

But Ferdinand forgot to include Jaap Stam (right) in his list, who also played at Old Trafford

But Ferdinand forgot to include Jaap Stam (right) in his list, who also played at Old Trafford

But Ferdinand forgot to include Jaap Stam (right) in his list, who also played at Old Trafford

Ferdinand said: ‘If I was naming my top five centre-halves [in Premier League history], I think [Nemanja] Vidic, [Vincent] Kompany, [John] Terry, Van Dijk and [Sol] Campbell. They would be my five.’ 

However, Ferdinand forgot to include former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam in the list and immediately started blushing when he realised his blunder.

The ex-England defender revealed that Stam would make his top-five list but could not say who would drop out of the shortlist.  

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