Rio Ferdinand compared Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane this week. The former Manchester United centre-back tried to explain just how good each star is.
There are a good few elite centre-backs in the Premier League right now. Standing tall above them all over the last few years has been Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutchman arrived at Liverpool in 2018 and hasn’t really put a foot wrong since. The Reds reached a Champions League final within his first six months, then won the competition a year later before racing to the Premier League title in 2020.
That all earned Van Dijk several individual awards and recognition as the best around. And then last year happened.
Van Dijk’s long-term injury has opened to door for others to call themselves the best. Ruben Dias did just that last season as he won the PFA Player of the Year award. And now Raphael Varane has arrived in England as one of the game’s most successful defenders.
So how do they stack up to Van Dijk? Rio Ferdinand tried to explain.
Ferdinand on Van Dijk & Varane
“When [Van Dijk’s] fit, over the last couple of years he’s been the go-to guy,” Ferdinand told his FIVE podcast.
“He had the biggest impact on a team, certainly in terms of centre-backs, over probably the last three years.
“Varane I would say is up there. Him and Varane, [Sergio] Ramos in previous years, as well, they have been the top boys. It’s that consistency and the ability to win.
“Varane is unrivalled alongside Ramos in terms of winning, but with the way his form has been over the last three years, van Dijk has been immense, man, he’s been crazy.”
That’s how we’d see it, too. It’ll be interesting to see how Varane holds up without Ramos next to him – though, his World Cup medal suggests he’ll do alright.
But this promises to be one of the best battles of the season. It’s one we’ve discussed before, in fact, and we’ll certainly keep an eye on it.
As for now, though, surely it’s still got to be Van Dijk? We’ll back him to remove all doubt over the next few months.