Steve Nicol doesn’t always nail it in regards to Liverpool and our players, but he certainly has on this occasion.
The former title winning Red has dismissed Michael Ballack’s bizarre analysis of Virgil van Dijk as rubbish.
According to the ex-Chelsea midfielder, van Dijk only shines because the quality of the Premier League’s forwards is poor.
“Virgil van Dijk is very lucky to play in an era where there is no Drogba, [Frank] Lampard, Alan Shearer, Henry, [Wayne] Rooney, [Robin] Van Persie, [Carlos] Tevez, [Emmanuel] Adebayor and Diego Costa in the Premier League,” he said.
“No wonder they think he is the best defender in the league.”
Nicol’s response though is an excellent one…
He told ESPN FC: “Well I’m interested to know which part of his game he’s not happy with because if you’re looking for a physical battle, are you telling me that Van Dijk couldn’t beat anybody up physically? Even Drogba?
“It would be great to watch but don’t tell me that Drogba would walk all over him physically.
“Pace-wise I don’t remember seeing anybody, whether it’s the Premier League or the Champions League, running past this guy. So that’s not a problem.
“Can he pass the ball? Yes, he can pass the ball. I’d love to know which part of Van Dijk’s game he thinks would be susceptible to any of these strikers that he was talking about.”
The idea that the Premier League is without top quality forwards is laughable.
Sergio Aguero is maybe the best ever, along with Henry, and deserves credit. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane are both world-class, too – and just as good as the majority of forwards in Ballack’s list.
On top of those, you have the likes of Jamie Vardy, Raul Jimenez, Marcus Rashford, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Son Heung-Min – players who have something most of Ballack’s picks did not: pace.
And if Ballack can’t judge van Dijk on his success domestically, perhaps he should consider the Champions League, where he’s come up against Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in recent seasons – getting to two finals and winning one.