Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk
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‘Special’ Van Dijk defends with ‘arrogance’

Fulham captain Tom Cairney has called Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk ‘special’ and says the Dutchman defends with ‘arrogance’.

Cairney discussed the performances of Van Dijk this season after the 32-year-old shone during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with title rivals Manchester City last weekend.

Van Dijk has returned to form after a relative dip last season to reestablish himself as arguably the best defender in the division and Cairney was full of praise for the centre-back, believing he ‘is coming back to that best defender in the world level’.

 

Speaking to West Ham forward Michail Antonio on The Footballer’s Football Podcast, he said football was ‘too easy’ for Van Dijk before his ACL injury but believes he is now close to his best level once again.

“Before his ACL injury, I think football was borderline too easy for him. Before his ACL, he was just walking through games – didn’t sweat,” the midfielder said.

 

“It was a horrific injury and he came back, which it’s fair to say was not at the same level. He struggled a little bit and I’m trying to be the most respectful I can because he was at such an elite level before and I think he knows that as well. Now, after time, he is coming back to that best defender in the world level.

“He reads it [the game] so well. He defends with arrogance, which is quite special.”

Antonio agreed with Cairney’s comments and opened up on the difficulty of facing the Dutchman, who has not lost an aerial duel in the Premier League since January.

“What I love about Virgil is most defenders would be backing off or running to the side to try to see you, Virgil just turns his back to you. He fully turns his back to you and just looks at you to say: ‘If you’re going left, I’m going left; if you’re going right, I’m going right.’

“He just waits for you to knock the ball and he is already in motion. He doesn’t have to generate the power to catch up to the speed of you – he is already there. Most defenders want to see you, he’s like: ‘I know I’m quicker and stronger than you – knock it, any stage you knock it I am there.’

 

“I couldn’t tell you how fast he is, but he is always there. He’s two steps ahead, he doesn’t need to be rapid, he’s two steps ahead so he knows when you’re waiting to knock it and he’s already two yards ahead of it.”

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