Kevin De Bruyne has named Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk as the best defender in the Premier League.
Van Dijk has looked back to his best in the early part of the season, having succeeded Jordan Henderson as Reds captain this summer.
And judging from De Bruyne’s appearance on Sky Sports Premier League yesterday, the City maestro thinks so too.
Asked to rank Van Dijk, Thiago Silva and Lisandro Martinez from best to worst, De Bruyne didn’t even hesitate. Told to justify his selection, the £55m man hailed close friend Van Dijk.
“Rolls-Royce. He’s got everything,” De Bruyne raved. “Obviously I know him well but he’s got right foot, left foot, speed, height, he’s a leader. Thiago [Silva] is also amazing, but I just think Virgil’s got that little bit more.”
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De Bruyne gives nod to Van Dijk
OK, there may have been a little bit of bias creeping in here. Although they’re very much on-pitch rivals at City and Liverpool, De Bruyne and Van Dijk are actually good friends away from the field of play.
The pair were even spotted on holiday with their respective wives over the summer.
Nevertheless, it’s still hard to make a case for either Silva or Martinez being the better player here.
Thiago obviously has longevity on his side. But it also feels as though the Brazilian’s age has been used to shield him from criticism for some poor displays at Chelsea.
Martinez meanwhile isn’t at the level of his two more senior peers. World Cup or no World Cup.
A more interesting debate would perhaps be ‘who was the better player in their prime – Silva or Van Dijk.’ But, although Silva is much respected, no defender of the past 15 years can hold a candle to Virgil’s peak years.
Clearly, at 32, those years have now just about passed. But that doesn’t mean he can’t still hold this mantle. Our No.4 is the very best around, even at 32. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.