Carles Puyol has backed former teammate Gerard Pique as the best defender in the world, above Virgil van Dijk.
The claim came in an exchange during an interview with Marca. The paper mentioned both Van Dijk and Dutch international teammate Matthijs De Ligt before asking who the best in the world was.
“Gerard Piqué, without a doubt,” replied Puyol.
When asked if he was superior to Sergio Ramos, Puyol again claimed that Pique was better. Then came the difficult question: is Pique better than Puyol himself was?
“Yes, he is the best centre back in the world,” said Puyol. “We’re different. He is key to Barcelona in everything he contributes, his leadership, how he competes.
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“He is a phenomenon and a great friend.”
Now, there’s probably a good bit of bias in here. Puyol partnered Pique for both Spain and Barcelona, of course, and he describes him as a ‘great friend’.
Still, there’s no denying that Van Dijk has some catching up to do with Pique, as Puyol says.
Pique has won everything at the top level. There are remarkably few players who have so consistently lifted the top trophies over the course of their career and that’s something Van Dijk simply cannot match.
The best in the world, though? While it’s hard to argue with results, Van Dijk has looked like a step above this season.
He’ll need to help deliver trophies in order to prove his worth to some but his individual performances take some beating.
But he does need to win one of the big two trophies this season if he wants to be the undisputed best. And if things go as planned, he may well find Pique standing in his way in one month’s time.