Virgil van Dijk is without question one of the greatest defenders to have graced English football.
The Dutchman has been instrumental in Liverpool’s rapid progression under Jurgen Klopp, playing a pivotal role in the club’s Premier League title-winning season in 2019/20.
After his exploits in 2018/19, the season the Reds secured their sixth European Cup, Van Dijk was one of the hot favourites to win the Ballon d’Or.
In the end, the former Southampton man was pipped to the accolade by Lionel Messi, but his second-place finish was clear proof that he’s one of the best defenders of the modern era.
But even those at the very, very top go through the odd rough patch and Van Dijk is in the midst of one right now.
Klopp’s main man at the back has looked rather average in 2020/21 thus far, his performance in the 7-2 loss away at Aston Villa comfortably the worst of his career in English football.
That inept display has prompted many to question Van Dijk’s status as one of the Premier League’s defensive greats and a former pro now believes they could have got the better of the 29-year-old.
The ex-pro in question is Manchester United legend Andy Cole. The former England international believes in his prime, he would have been Van Dijk’s “worst nightmare”.
“Van Dijk is a really good player, but I’m the kind of individual who would love to have played against him – and I feel like I would have got to him,” Cole told Sunday World.
“You want to test yourself against the best and he is the best at the moment, without a doubt, but I like to look at defenders and find weaknesses in them and we have seen a few with Van Dijk in the last few months.
“I watched him in the opening game of the season against Leeds and the strikers who give him problems are the ones who run in behind him and stretch him. They scored three goals that day and he didn’t look like he enjoyed the experience.
“He is a Rolls Royce of a defender, but he didn’t like putting his foot down and chasing back when people were getting in behind him.
“That’s what I would have done all day when I was at my best, so I would probably have been his worst nightmare if I was playing against him.”