Rio Ferdinand does not agree with those who think that Virgil van Dijk is the best in the Premier League, let alone planet
Ferdinand is of the opinion that Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is a distant second behind Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos for the world’s best centre-half tag because “you have got to win stuff”. The star man at Anfield has already been labelled by many as someone who has become the finest performer on the planet in his chosen position. That includes former Reds star Jamie Carragher, who has suggested that the Dutchman can make Premier League football look like men against boys.
But Manchester United legend Ferdinand feels that the 27-year-old will never be acknowledged in the same breath as serial winner Ramos until he has helped deliver major silverware. The ex-England international also told the Sunday Mirror when asked to pick the top central defender in world football: “I’d still put Sergio Ramos there. Ramos, when the big games come up, the trophies are there to be won, he’s normally standing there with his sleeves rolled up.
“He is not being shifted at the moment. To be considered the best in the world, you have got to win stuff as well. You cannot just play well for your team and sit there as runner-up or coming third or fourth. That’s why, when people talk about Player of the Year and you see they haven’t won anything but they are the best player, I am thinking: ‘How? You haven’t influenced a team to win things.’
“You need to be part of a team that is winning to be considered like that. Virgil is a fantastic player, potentially the best in the world but, right now, no. And I’d think he would agree Winning is an essential part of winning personal accolades. You have to win. If Liverpool win the league it’s legit, but it would feel odd if he is the best player and they have come second or third.”
Van Dijk’s performances for Liverpool this season have ensured that the Merseysiders have remained in contention for a maiden Premier League title, while the defender himself is among the favourites to bag the PFA Player of the Year prize. Here, too, Ferdinand is not convinced that he deserves that honour, with the former United captain saying that displays by players at Manchester City and Tottenham will ensure they can stake stronger claims.
Asked if Van Dijk should take the award, Ferdinand said: “Virgil? No, no. There’s Raheem Sterling. Heung-min Son, though Tottenham have not won anything yet, Sergio Aguero, David Silva. Bernardo Silva, by the way… It’s difficult if they win the league.”
It may sound harsh on Ferdinand’s part, especially to those with an affinity towards the Red side of Merseyside, but the former defender does have a point in that you have to inspire your team to win the big ones if you want to be considered a legend. Even if Van Dijk manages to win the individual gong come season end, it will all be for nought if he cannot help his deliver some kind of silverware this season, especially in the league considering they held such a big lead at the halfway stage. For more proof of what a lack of silverware does to a player who otherwise has it all and has done it all, just head to Barcelona and ask a short little player with a handful of world player of the award gongs how he is perceived back home in Argentina and when it comes to the GOAT debate!