Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany has picked Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk ahead of the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand as the greatest defender the Premier League has ever seen
Van Dijk was named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year last month and the Liverpool defender is firmly in Ballon d’Or contention after inspiring Jurgen Klopp’s team to Champions League glory last season.
Liverpool and Van Dijk missed out to City by a point in an unrelenting Premier League title race in 2018-19 that ended with Kompany lifting the trophy for the fourth time in his career.
When discussing where he stood among the Premier League’s finest central defenders, Kompany said persistent injuries meant he was fighting a losing battle against some of the greats.
“I never try to put me in any of these categories because these guys have been consistently at the top of their powers,” he said.
“My journey was completely different. I’ve never been able to deal with the same tools. I’ve had a lot of injuries, a lot of comebacks.
“For me not to play this game because of an injury… surely the irony has not escaped anyone?
“That’s been my journey at City; that’s how they know me. I was always fighting my own battles. I could never compete with anybody else because I could not get the volume of games, but I was able to be substantial for my team and that’s the only thing that mattered to me.”
“I go back to players that really impressed me when I played against them, central defenders [but] I would bring it back to Virgil van Dijk,” he said.
“It’s a weird one because he hasn’t been on the scene for as long as John Terry, Rio Ferdinand – these guys were there for a long, long time – but the signs he showed in the last few years make it obvious that if he had been at the top level for longer, he would be further as well.
“Being a defender is how you make your team more solid. The Liverpool before Van Dijk and after, it is a completely different set-up. I’ll give him that [accolade] because of that.”