Liverpool fans may be left scratching their heads at Rio Ferdinand’s latest comments after the ex-Manchester United ace took aim at Virgil van Dijk and the player’s form this term.
Speaking for BT Sport, the Englishman suggested that the highly-decorated defender could no longer be compared to the greats of the Premier League owing to his collapse in performance levels this term, though did admit that the drop-off could be traced to the team’s overall struggles.
“There are phases in your career when things don’t go to plan. You look at the great centre-halves of years gone by like John Terry, Jaap Stam, [Nemanja] Vidic, [Vincent] Kompany, Sol Campbell, the list goes on,” the pundit told his co-commentators.
“Those don’t have… I don’t remember those having a season off, or big periods in a season where you have eight or nine games where it isn’t going well.
“The form of the team does play a part in that, I think.”
The former Southampton ace (described as a ‘physical monster’ by Erling Haaland, via ESPN’s Instagram) was found to be at fault for Bournemouth’s winning goal at the weekend as his laissez-faire approach to defending attracted criticism.
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It’s worth pointing out that when Liverpool have been winning and dominant in games, Van Dijk’s sense of calm has been viewed in a much different light by fans and pundits alike.
That’s not to exclude or shield our No.4 from any form of criticism, though we would absolutely agree with Ferdinand’s point on the 31-year-old’s struggles being largely a symptom of defects within the side as a whole.
On that basis, we’d have to argue strongly in his favour in terms of remaining comparable in quality to the likes of Terry and Kompany – not to mention the defensive rock stars of Europe.
One only need consider the struggles Mo Salah has experienced (despite boasting a formidable scoring record this season regardless) as further proof of the impact systematic difficulties are having on our best players.
Fans can catch the full clip below, courtesy of BT Sport:
"Sometimes you're as good as the team around you!"
How do you explain the drop in form of Virgil van Dijk this season…? 🤔
🎙️ @rioferdy5 | @themichaelowen | @petercrouch | @mrjakehumphrey pic.twitter.com/LSv0Jl9Yjk
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 15, 2023
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