Vincent Kompany has labeled Virgil van Dijk as the best defender in Premier League history. He may be a little quick to do so, however.
“I would bring it back to Virgil van Dijk [as the best],” he said, as reported by Goal. “He’s not been on the scene as long as [John] Terry, [Rio] Ferdinand – who have been around for a long time – but the signs he’s shown in the last few years.
“He’s shown if he had been around longer he’d have been at the top for a long time. The Liverpool before Van Dijk and after are a completely different setup. I’ll give him that one.”
That last point is key – we haven’t seen an impact like Van Dijk’s before. Not in defence, anyway. You can hark back to Eric Cantona changing things at Manchester United in the 90’s but since then, when has one played transformed a team like this?
Liverpool have a great defence these days but it really wasn’t long ago that it was a joke. The Reds were calamitous, unable to see out leads or hold teams at bay. Van Dijk changed that instantly with his arrival.
And so on that level, yes, we haven’t seen anything like Van Dijk before. But Kompany has jumped the gun a little in saying that Van Dijk is the best outright.
He’s only been at the very top for around 18 months and longevity separates the very best. Then there’s the fact that he hasn’t actually won the competition, unlike all of his rivals.
Now, it speaks volumes that he’s forced his way into the discussion despite those two things. But calling him the outright best? There’s still more he needs to achieve – so let’s save those accolades for when he does.
Because if Van Dijk does, there will be no doubt that he’s the best we’ve seen in the Premier League.