Speaking before Liverpool’s 3-0 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League last night, Rio Ferdinand was discussing the Reds defender Virgil van Dijk. Speaking in the BT Sport studio (01/05/19; 19:40) to Gary Lineker, the former Manchester United star highlighted just why he rates the Dutchman so highly.
“He’s the best centre-half they’ve had since Alan Hansen…
“What I love about him, he makes others play better. He gives others confidence. From the goalkeeper to the full-backs beside him. That exudes through the team.
“Great players make other players feel comfortable and play better.”
Ferdinand later had to criticise Van Dijk as he made perhaps his first minor error of the season. Luis Suarez’s excellent run duped the PFA Player of the Year when Barca took a 1-0 lead.
However, that does not depreciate the fact that Van Dijk has been special this season.
It goes to show how good he has been when a borderline error is thrown into the spotlight as it has been.
But Ferdinand hits the nail on the head regarding the raising of other player’s games. Joel Matip looked woeful previously for Liverpool but has been in great form in recent weeks. Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have both improved massively alongside the colossal defender. Joe Gomez, similarly, has thrived.
Alisson has settled in perfectly with VVD ahead of him. Even looking back to last season. Loris Karius improved massively after Van Dijk’s arrival, until the Champions League final meltdown.
It must pain Ferdinand, whose club career disdain for Liverpool was clear, to be so glowing of an Anfield hero. Liverpool fans will just hope the Dutchman continues to raise his, and those around him’s game.