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 this year’s Ballon d’Or.
In effect, he was crowned as the best defender in the world, a title he 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.
Last season, a second-placed Liverpool conceded 22 goals in 38 PL games, this season under the full leadership of van Dijk, they’ve conceded 21 in 29 games. If that weren’t bad enough, it’s in the Champions League where the defender has been exposed the most. WhoScored gave him an average rating of 6.88 across the 8 UCL games, one of the worst ratings in the entire team. It’s his fault that the defending champions were embarrassingly knocked out in the round of 16, making it one of the worst title defences in decades. A defence that saw the Reds lose 3 out of 8 UCL games this campaign.
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. The stats have been flying around social media about how many games the 28-year-old hasn’t been dribbled past and how many unsuccessful take-ons have happened against him. His invincibility was made redundant when a still acclimatising Nicolas Pepe made him eat dust earlier in the season at Anfield. We’ve been led to believe that van Dijk cannot be beaten, but the truth is he runs away from any type of take-on. As can be seen by the image below.
For Atletico Madrid’s second and most vital goal, van Dijk chose to run away from an oncoming Alvaro Morata who then, in turn, squared to Marco Llorente to slot past Adrian. In his defence, some have argued that the centre-back was tracking the initial run of Llorente, however, it’s clear that Joe Gomez had that covered, so why was VVD running away from the ball?
He 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.