Defenders seem to back in the spotlight in the past few seasons. Virgil Van Dijk’s record-breaking transfer from Southampton to Liverpool certainly had a role to play in the same.
Unlike attackers, whose brilliance stems from tangible statistics like goals and assists, the brilliance of defensive players is often beyond numbers alone.
Despite that, a comparative analysis of two defenders is often quite telling. Virgil van Dijk recently won the PFA Player of the Year award, the first defender to do so since John Terry in 2005.
Liverpool fans have much to thank the Dutchman for, as he has thoroughly transformed their defence, and has been instrumental in the Merseyside Reds’ success so far this season.
Many have even contested that he may be the finest defender in Premier League history, which is saying something, considering English football has boasted of legendary centre-backs like the aforementioned Terry, Rio Ferdinand, and Nemanja Vidic.
One Manchester United fan seemed particularly peeved at such claims and chose to compare Van Dijk’ this season’s statistics to Vidic’s from 2008/09.
Van Dijk (this season) vs Vidic (2008/09 season) stats. Van Dijk isn’t even the best defender beginning with the letter V, let alone the best defender in PL history. Put some respect on Nemanja Vidic’s name. pic.twitter.com/8k3ngP4W0W
— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) April 30, 2019
The tweet read: “Van Dijk (this season) vs Vidic (2008/09 season) stats. Van Dijk isn’t even the best defender beginning with the letter V, let alone the best defender in PL history. Put some respect on Nemanja Vidic’s name.”
It is easy to see why the individual in question believes so. Van Dijk has been good this season, but is nowhere near as effective as the Serb was back then. In areas such as clearances, tackles, and interceptions, the Manchester United captain has nearly double the amount notched by Van Dijk this season.
The only area where the Liverpool centre-back seems to excel is in aerial battles won. At the same time, it has to be noted that Van Dijk does contribute more to the game offensively, but as long as pure defensive ethos are concerned, he still has a long way to go before he tops the all-time list.