Is Virgil van Dijk (Big Virj) overrated?

The answer is yes. Never in the history of the Premier League have we seen a player receive so many unmerited plaudits more than Virgil van Dijk. This is a man that had the audacity to call Cristiano Ronaldo a non-rival, clearly, the praise had gotten to his head. I was as shocked as everyone else when Virgil van Dijk finished 2nd in Ballon d’Or of 2019.

Crowned as the best defender in the world, a title Big Virj is nowhere near of deserving. Raphael Varane, Matthijs de Ligt, Leonardo Bonucci and even Joe Gomez are better CBs than the Dutchman. Let’s explain why.  

Here’s why Virgil van Dijk is overrated or Overhyped.

Last season, Liverpool were 5th in the 2022/23 English Premier League, with 67 points from 38 games. The Reds won 19 matches, drew 10, and lost 9. They scored 75 goals (84.0 Expected Goals (xG)) and conceded 47 goals (58.5 Expected Goals against (xGA)).

In the English Premier League season 2022/23, Virgil van Dijk played 30 matches. He had 9 shots on target from a total of 22 shots and scored 3 goals (3.93 xG). Virgil van Dijk averaged 81 passes per match with a pass completion rate of 90%, and had 1 assist.

In the UEFA Champions League season 2022/23, Big Virj made 8 appearances. He had 5 shots on target from a total of 11 shots and scored 0 goals (1.02 xG). Virgil van Dijk averaged 63 passes per match with a pass completion rate of 87%, and had 0 assists.

While ranking all the Liverpool players in 2022-23 season, ranked Dutchman 5/10 citing him as another player to have fallen short of his usual standard and expectations. VVD had a poor start to the season and has looked more uncertain and vulnerable in previous season than at any point in his Anfield career.

Dispelling the never dribbled past myth

The way the Dutchman has been billed is as an immoveable object giant that cannot be overcome is laughable.

No doubt, earlier in his Liverpool career, Van Dijk famously went 50 Premier League games without being dribbled past once, until Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe became the first player to successfully dribble past the Dutchman. The last player to dribble past Van Dijk in the EPL was former Newcastle midfielder Mikel Merino, while the Dutch centre-half was still part of Southampton lineup.

The Frenchman, making his first competitive start for the Gooners, had a lively afternoon at Anfield. Picking the ball up on the right touchline, Arsenal’s record signing managed to show Van Dijk a clean set of heels as he darted past the onrushing Liverpool defenders.

However, normal service resumed as the 28-year-old caught up with the Ivory Coast international and nicked the ball from the forward, but at least Pepe can take pride in breaking that record.

Analysis of the stats by WhoScored reveals that the 32-year-old is being dribbled past 0.3 times per game in the Premier League and 0.4 per Champions League match last term. It seems that as if the brick wall of the late 2010s had crumbled somewhat.

Virgil van Dijk doesn’t get dribbled past because he runs from attackers, thus leaving his partnering CBs to pick up the pieces, inevitably giving them the blame. It’s funny that over the past two years, any time Liverpool have conceded goals, it’s never Virgil’s it’s because of Lovren’s mistakes or Joe Gomez’s naivety. No blame can ever be attached to van Dijk. This season alone, the defender has been dribbled past 8 times, I thought he was meant to be unbeatable?

It’s criminal that this man has been compared to the all-time greats like Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry & Sol Campbell. He’s not even in their league, these men were capable of producing domestic doubles, van Dijk even with the best attack in the world hasn’t managed such. The aim of this article wasn’t to bash van Dijk, it was just to show that he’s nowhere the best defenders in the world, let alone of all time.


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