Virgil Van Dijk: Liverpool Star Snubs Messi, Haaland Names Olivier Giroud As Most Difficult Opponent

Virgil Van Dijk: Liverpool Star Snubs Messi, Haaland Names Olivier Giroud As Most Difficult Opponent

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
Lionel Messi logo
Inter Miami CF logoFArgentina logo
Olivier Giroud logo
AC Milan logoFFrance logo
  • Virgil Van Dijk has faced great forwards like Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland in his career
  • The Liverpool captain ranks highly among the best defenders of the modern generation
  • He had a somewhat surprising answer when he was asked who his most difficult opponent was

Virgil Van Dijk's name will unarguably feature in the list of the top defenders in the world over the last five or so years.

Since joining Liverpool in the winter of 2018, the Dutchman has elevated his game and came close to winning the Ballon d'Or in 2019.

Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool, Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, Sergio Aguero, Olivier Giroud
Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk. Photo by Visionhaus.
Source: Getty Images

To be the best, you must compete against the best and beat them. Over his six-year spell in Merseyside, five if you remove the season he missed with an ACL injury, the former Southampton centre-back has rubbed shoulders with the who's who in the game.

Most defenders will always mention Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo as the toughest players they have ever faced. The duo's resume precedes them as the best this generation has ever watched.

If it is not the two, a player would most likely mention a player with silky moves and quick feet like Neymar or Eden Hazard.

Van Dijk names his toughest opponent

But rather surprisingly, Van Dijk admitted in an interview last year that it was Olivier Giroud who gave him the most difficult of times.

"Funnily enough, Giroud. I always felt like I got him, but somehow, he always managed to score. Whether it was for Arsenal, Chelsea or France, he always scored," he said on Gary Neville's show, The Overlap.

The Netherlands captain went on to admit he has faced great strikers in his career, but it was the former Chelsea striker who always managed to slip past him.

"There are so many fantastic strikers I’ve played against, Messi, Aguero, Haaland is a difficult one because he has everything, but I’m going for Giroud as he’s my bogeyman - annoying!"

Stats from Transfermarkt show that Giroud, now at AC Milan, has seven goal involvements against Van Dijk in 14 appearances.

Top 10 defenders in the Premier League

The 2023/2024 Premier League campaign is only 12 games in, but from the foregoing, defending seems to have taken a back seat this season, with only Arsenal and Liverpool averaging less than one goal per game in terms of conceding.

But amidst that sorry statistic, there have been standout defenders of the season so far.

Sports Brief takes a look at the top 10 defenders in the Premier League so far.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)