Premier League • England

Virgil van Dijk taunted over not being in same class as five Premier League legends in big Liverpool statement

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand believes Virgil van Dijk’s form this season means he can’t be ranked alongside some of the legendary Premier League centre-backs.

The Netherlands international has not looked the same player since returning from his anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2021. Indeed, he appears to have lost a yard of pace, along with the consistency levels that made him the Premier League’s outstanding defender.

Van Dijk played a huge part in Liverpool’s success between 2018-2020. However, the 31-year-old big dip in form has coincided with the decline in Jurgen Klopp’s current Reds’ side.

Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday evening and are also struggling to finish in the top four.

And Ferdinand believes Van Dijk’s struggles are playing a big role in a troubling campaign for the Anfield outfit.

The former England centre-back also claims that the Dutchman cannot be considered alongside Premier League greats like John Terry, Nemanja Vidic, Vincent Kompany, Sol Campbell and Jaap Stam because of how far his level has dropped off.

“There are phases in your career when things don’t go to plan,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“But you look at great centre-halves like Vidic, Kompany, [Sol] Campbell, Terry, Jaap Stam they don’t have a season off or big periods like eight to nine games off.

“The form of the team plays a part though and it does have an impact and sometimes you’re as good as team around you.

“He hasn’t had the team performing in the way that suits his style of play.”

Van Dijk, Liverpool defence over-exposed

Van Dijk was heavily criticised for the role he played in Karim Benzema’s goal as Real Madrid beat the Reds 1-0 to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals 6-3 on aggregate.

And while Michael Owen concedes Van Dijk could do better, he also thinks Liverpool’s defenders are often left over-exposed.

“When Liverpool are playing well you don’t have much to do (as a defender), they win the ball at the front,” said Owen.

“The problem is they leave themselves exposed (at the moment) so it’s a difficult position to play in if your team isn’t functioning well.

“It’s difficult at the moment because he’s getting exposed in one-vs-ones. If they are playing well you don’t even notice him and he just mops up everything.”

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