90min
Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk names toughest opponent he's faced in his career

By Sean Walsh
Van Dijk is one of the world's best defenders
Van Dijk is one of the world's best defenders / Michael Regan/Getty Images
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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk gave an unsurprising answer when asked who the toughest opponent he's faced in his career is.

The Netherlands international has become one of the world's best players since his move to Anfield in January 2018, helping the Reds win the Champions League and Premier League.

On the way to conquering Europe in 2019, Liverpool knocked out Barcelona in the semi-finals, but Van Dijk admitted Lionel Messi has been his most challenging foe.

"I would say Lionel Messi," he told Sky Sports. "He's still the best football player in the world.

"Him and Cristiano Ronaldo have been doing unreal numbers for the last decade, and it's incredible what they have achieved. I would say Messi [is the toughest opponent] because it was a very tough evening in Barcelona when we lost 3-0. Luckily, we turned it around at Anfield."

Braces from Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi helped overturn said 3-0 deficit, and Liverpool went on to beat Tottenham in the final.

Van Dijk also reserved praise for Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland, and compared him to a current Premier League striker.

"Haaland is also a special striker: he’s strong, he’s quick and he’s got all the attributes to make a defender’s life very, very difficult," he added.

"The first time [playing against him] was when he came on at Anfield and scored for Salzburg. He was very quick, aggressive, very direct. It's a bit like how Jamie Vardy plays, but Haaland is maybe a little bit stronger than Vardy."

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