Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk gave an unsurprising answer when asked who the toughest opponent he’s faced in his career. Van Dijk named Lionel Messi the toughest player he’s played against in his career.
The Netherlands international has established himself as one of the top players in the world since joining Liverpool in January 2018. He has also helped the Reds win the Champions League and Premier League. Football club Liverpool beat Barcelona in the semi-finals on their way to winning Europe in 2019, but Van Dijk confessed that Lionel Messi has been his most difficult opponent.
“I would say, Lionel Messi,” he told Sky Sports. “He’s still the best football player in the world. He and Cristiano Ronaldo have been doing unreal numbers for the last decade, and it’s incredible what they have achieved. I would say Messi [is the toughest opponent] because it was a very tough evening in Barcelona when we lost 3-0. Luckily, we turned it around at Anfield.”
Van Dijk also praised Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund and compared him to a contemporary Premier League striker. “Haaland is also a special striker: he’s strong, he’s quick and he’s got all the attributes to make a defender’s life very, very difficult,” he added.
“The first time [playing against him] was when he came on at Anfield and scored for Salzburg. He was very quick, aggressive, very direct. It’s a bit like how Jamie Vardy plays, but Haaland is maybe a little bit stronger than Vardy.”
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