Rio Ferdinand has waded into the debate over whether Virgil van Dijk is a better centre-back than Nemanja Vidic and says his former Manchester United team-mate’s shortcomings have been turned into ‘a bit of a myth’.
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Ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher started a lively conversation on Twitter on Monday as he leapt to the defence of Van Dijk following an underwhelming performance against Arsenal, claiming the Dutchman is still ‘miles better’ than Premier League Hall of Fame nominee Vidic.
Van Dijk was the Ballon d’Or runner-up back in 2019 but his form has dipped significantly after a serious knee injury at the start of last season.
He once again struggled in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Arsenal, clearing the ball straight into the path of Gabriel Martinelli for the opening goal before leaving Gabriel Jesus completely unmarked for the second.
Carragher is adamant Van Dijk is simply having an off season just like Vidic and indeed Ferdinand had in their careers and insists he has been the best player in the Premier League alongside Kevin De Bruyne over the last four years.
He also brought up Vidic’s struggles against Fernando Torres to illustrate his point, though Ferdinand has hit out at that particular comparison and believes the Serb’s struggles against the Spaniard have always been overstated, while he has been stunned by Van Dijk’s drop-off this season.
‘Liverpool’s defending… I don’t know what I’m seeing at the moment! I can’t get my head around it. Van Dijk has been the best defender in the world arguably for the last couple of years. He looks a shadow of himself,’ said Ferdinand on his Vibe with FIVE YouTube show.
‘He’s lost form, obviously. He said that in a [social media] post after the game that personally and collectively [Liverpool] have lost form, not playing the way they normally would. And that’s fine, that’s fair.
‘Him, Trent [Alexander-Arnold] they’ve just got to get back to basics. The way you get out of a rut like that is to just get back to basics.
‘I saw Jamie Carragher tweet something about Van Dijk being better than Vidic. I don’t know why, or why that was said or whatever.
‘He mentioned [Fernando] Torres – I think Torres scored three goals in 15 games against Vidic. I think it’s a bit of a myth. I think he had a couple of dodgy moments in those games, and he got sent off a couple of times, but that’s kind of been amplified into saying he got tortured every time we played against Torres, which wasn’t the case.
‘Three goals in 15 games. [Marcus] Rashford I think has got six in 13 games against Liverpool, does that mean he’s tortured Van Dijk and Van Dijk can’t handle him? Because that’s what you’re saying about [Vidic], if we’re using the same methodology that we’re using for Vidic with the way Rashford is scoring goals against Liverpool, just under one every two games he’s scoring against Liverpool. I don’t know.
‘I don’t know why Vidic’s name was thrown in there. People are hammering Virgil van Dijk about his performances this season, he’s had a bit of an off season – which he has, and I think he’d admit that.
‘It’s mad. He’s prime time as well. The problem is he had a big injury, and that injury was one where people said, “Can he come back from that injury?” Next season is going to be the telling one. He’s had this season to get himself fit, to get himself up to speed.’
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