Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand believes Virgil van Dijk’s form this season means he can’t be ranked alongside Premier League greats such as ohn Terry, Nemanja Vidic, Vincent Kompany and Sol Campbell.
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The Dutchman has been off the boil for Liverpool this term and he appears to have lost a yard of pace since returning from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in 2021.
Van Dijk’s arrival at Liverpool transformed the club’s fortunes and his performances from 2018 to 2020 were as influential as any centre-back in Premier League history.
But the Dutchman’s dip in form this season has coincided with the decline of Jurgen Klopp’s side, who are struggling to finish in the top four.
And Ferdinand believes that such a period of form means Van Dijk can’t be compared to Premier League greats such as Terry, Vidic and Kompany.
‘There are phases in your career when things don’t go to plan,’ Ferdinand told BT Sport.
‘But you look at great centre-halves like Vidic, Kompany, [Sol] Campbell, Terry, Jaap Stam they don’t have a season off or big periods like eight to nine games off.
‘The form of the team plays a part though and it does have an impact and sometimes you’re as good as team around you.
‘He hasn’t had the team performing in the way that suits his style of play.’
Van Dijk was criticised for the role he played in Karim Benzema’s goal as Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 on Wednesday night to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.
And while Michael Owen concedes Van Dijk could do better, he believes Liverpool’s defenders are being left over-exposed.
‘When Liverpool are playing well you don’t have much to do (as a defender), they win the ball at the front,’ said Owen.
‘The problem is they leave themselves exposed (at the moment) so it’s a difficult position to play in if your team isn’t functioning well.
‘It’s difficult at the moment because he’s getting exposed in one-vs-ones. If they are playing well you don’t even notice him and he just mops up everything.’
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