Jamie Carragher thinks the fact Ruben Dias doesn’t possess Virgil van Dijk’s natural physical attributes makes his debut season with Manchester City all the more impressive.
The Portuguese centre-back cost City £65m, but in fairness, he’s proved himself value for money – being the best player in his position in both England and Europe in the absence of Big Virg.
Van Dijk’s injury has essentially defined Liverpool’s season, and Dias’s signing has marked the improvement in City’s backline.
Here’s what Carra had to say…
‘In the other semi-final you’ve got two of the greatest centre-backs of their generation hopefully playing in Thiago Silva and Ramos, they’re coming towards the end. We have seen Van Dijk over the last couple of years win the Champions League. I think the new breed is coming and this guy [Dias] is a massive part of it,’ he said, reported in the Metro.
‘The biggest thing for a centre-back, in terms of body position, I think he’s the best by a long way in the Premier League.
‘I think in his first season that he has produced at Man City, I think he’s at that level. What I would say is that Van Dijk has been blessed with physical attributes that Dias hasn’t so in some ways I’m more impressed with Dias.
‘When you watch Van Dijk, it’s like watching a Rolls-Royce, you just think the way he moves. ‘Most players don’t have that and Dias probably hasn’t got that so probably has to concentrate more and be side on constantly.’
While City have had the luxury of rotating between John Stones and Aymeric Laporte as Dias’s partner, two £50m+ defenders, with £40m+ Nathan Ake the fourth-choice – Liverpool have used the likes of Nat Phillips (free), Rhys Williams (free) and Ozan Kabak (loan) as frontline defenders, often fielding central midfielder Fabinho there as well.
Next term, we’ll hopefully have a plethora of our own options in van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and the soon to arrive Ibrahima Konate – and we’re at a stage now when we’re praying for no further setbacks.
We need to go into 2021/22 with five senior central defenders, given the VVD, Gomez and Matip may not be able to immediately return – so perhaps one of either Kabak or Phillips will stay.