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When it comes to the art of defending, there are few better in the game than Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.
The colossal centre-back is the epitome of a ‘Rolls-Royce defender’, making the challenging look mundane and all in a ruthlessly stylish way.
There is an almost unbeatable aura about Van Dijk that has seen many a talented attacker not even bothering to try and get by him.
It’s certainly a heated debate, but Van Dijk can easily stake a claim to being the best centre-back in the world right now.
However, can he truly be acclaimed as one of the greatest ever? Well, in a brilliant chat he recently had with Rio Ferdinand for BT Sport, Van Dijk got the opportunity to name his five greatest centre-backs from the Premier League era.
Ferdinand, who himself was a titanic figure at the heart of Manchester United’s famous defence, also named his five greatest.
Virgil van Dijk’s five greatest centre-backs
1 Rio Ferdinand
2 Vincent Kompany
3 Jaap Stam
4 John Terry
5 Sammy Hyypia
What a line up. In Ferdinand and Terry he has two bona-fide Premier League legends while his choice of Kompany – possibly Manchester City’s greatest ever-player – is also a great shout.
Jaap Stam is somewhat of a cult hero at Manchester United while his decision to include Sammy Hyypia will go down a real treat with the Liverpool faithful.
He had no room, however, for himself in that line-up – a pat on the back Ferdinand was only too happy to give himself when making his picks.
Rio Ferdinands’ five greatest centre-backs
1 Rio Ferdinand
2 Nemanja Vidic
3 Virgil van Dijk
4 Jaap Stam
5 John Terry
He’s a confident man, isn’t he? Although, considering just how good he was, you can hardly blame Rio for picking himself first, especially after Van Dijk urged him to do it.
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – AUGUST 06: Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United gestures during the Pre Season Friendly match between Manchester United and Juventus at Old Trafford on August 6, 2008 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Hyypia and Kompany are the two to miss out on Ferdinand’s list who, instead, went for Van Dijk and his chief partner in defensive crime, Nemanja Vidic.
Alongside Vidic, Ferdinand was able to build one of the most intimidating reputations Europe has ever known as they regularly shut-out the brightest stars in the game with frightful ease.
The fact that Terry and Staam make it to both lists, shows just how special they were.
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