Virgil van Dijk returned from a nine month absence earlier this season
Virgil van Dijk is the best defender in world football and will overcome “teething problems” which have affected his return to the Liverpool starting eleven, according to former England defender Rio Ferdinand.
The Dutchman was side-lined for nine months with a ruptured cruciate ligament after a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in last year’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, before returning to action at the start of this season.
Since then, the 30-year-old has been part of a Liverpool side which has sailed through a tough group in the Champions League, and was unbeaten in the Premier League prior to Sunday’s chastening defeat to David Moyes’ West Ham United at the London Stadium.
Ferdinand, though, believes that some small rustiness is affecting Van Dijk’s game, but that the former Southampton man will return to top form soon enough.
“Yes, there’s going to be teething problems — I highlighted a few of those on BT the other day about turning the wrong way way and things like that,” he told his FIVE YouTube channel. “That’s going to happen because he’s been out for so long and he’s just getting his feet wet again. I still believe if there’s a game right now today and I need a centre back, my first centre back on the list would be him.”
Ex-Manchester United defender Ferdinand confirmed he speaks to Van Dijk through “messages every now and again,” and said he would be “disappointed if [Van Dijk] is not thinking that [he’s better than me]. I think you’ve got to think you’re the guy, you’ve got to think you’re the best… and I think Virgil, he’s the best centre-back in the world,” he said.
The BT Sport pundit added that he feels Van Dijk needs to continue to perform at the same level for another few season in order to be considered one of the greatest defenders of all-time by the wider public, saying: “There’s no doubt in my mind Virgil’s best year would stack up against most centre-backs, but you don’t get judged on that best year, you get judged over that period of time. It’s who stands the length of time as well. Ferdinand while discussing Van Dijk’s legacy.”
Asked which centre-backs in world football are hot on the Liverpool man’s heels, Ferdinand said: “Last season’s performances from [Ruben] Días… He was immense. Marquinhos too! I love him.”
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