Virgil van Dijk is coming under attack following a below-par performance in Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Leeds United on Saturday.
Despite getting on the scoresheet, Van Dijk made a mistake to allow Patrick Bamford to level the scores at 2-2 in an incident that Jamie Carragher labelled as ‘arrogant’ on commentary for Sky Sports.
The Dutch colossus has now made two errors leading directly to goals in his last four Premier League games, having made just one in his first 154 appearances in the competition.
That remarkable stat from Opta shows that mistakes have crept into Van Dijk’s game. Liverpool will be hoping that they are just anomalies.
Virgil van Dijk doesn't make mistakes like this very often 😳
But Patrick Bamford made sure to punish him 💥pic.twitter.com/u6PkcC7c6i— Goal (@goal) September 13, 2020
Agbonlahor criticises Van Dijk
Still, he’s receiving plenty of criticism from fans and the media alike, with former Premier League forward Gabby Agbonlahor saying the 29-year-old let his standards drop against Leeds.
Agbonlahor said on talkSPORT: “I felt yesterday’s performance was, from Van Dijk, arrogant; that flick he made in the goal he gave away, it felt like ‘we are playing Leeds United, it’s going to be an easy game and I can let my standards drop’.”
Van Dijk has been spoken about as one of the best defenders in Premier League history, and rightly so after he won the 2019 PFA Player of the Year award.
But Agbonlahor doesn’t believe he should be put in the same bracket as the very best centre-backs to play in the top flight.
“Virgil van Dijk is an amazing defender, but you can’t put him in that category of Rio Ferdinand and Vincent Kompany yet,” the former Aston Villa striker added.
What have Ferdinand and Kompany said?
That’s quite a bold claim to make given how well Van Dijk has played over the past few seasons. It’s not as though Ferdinand or Kompany didn’t make mistakes, either.
And it might be worth remembering what Ferdinand and Kompany have previously said about the Liverpool star when we think about the league’s great defenders.
Kompany considers him the best in Premier League history while Ferdinand recently described him as the best in the world right now.
When asked to name his No.1 defender in the top flight era, former Man City defender Kompany told Sporf: “I would bring it back to Virgil van Dijk.
“And it’s a weird one because he hasn’t been on the scene for as long as these names we mentioned, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, these guys were there for a long, long time.
“But the signs he showed in his last few years just make it so obvious that if he would’ve been at the top, top level before that, he would’ve been already further as well.
“And from what I’ve seen in terms of having an impact on the team, and a defender is never about himself, it’s about his communication with other guys and how you make your team more solid.
“And the Liverpool before Van Dijk and the one after him, it’s a completely different setup, and I’ll give him that one because of that.”
Meanwhile, Ferdinand believes Van Dijk is ahead of his peers right now – although he doesn’t believe the competition is as strong as it was during his playing career.
“I love him. I think he’s the best in the world right now,” Ferdinand said on the Beautiful Game Podcast.
“He’s undoubtedly a top player but I think he’s not fighting against the depth of other central defenders that was in my era.
Though I think in any era, he looks like a top player.
When it comes to grading centre-backs, we certainly put more stock in what Ferdinand and Kompany have to say than Agbonlahor.