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05th Apr 2019

The definitive list of reasons why Virgil van Dijk is the best in the world

Kyle Picknell

Virgil Van Dijk is the best defender in the world. But not for all the actual reasons. Not because he is really good at defending, which, obviously, he is, but because of all these things instead: from smelling nice to being able to kick a ball out of a stadium. And that’s the real quiz.

It feels as though every single time he plays a game now the post-match discussion will inevitably revolve around him, Virgil bloody Van Dijk, Liverpool’s centre-half colossus and the most en vogue, hyped footballer around.

He is good. So good, in fact, that he can’t finish a match without pundits and fans alike fawning over him afterwards, treating him like a grizzled old prospector would their very first nugget of gold in the Yukon. Take, for example, this much-lauded piece of play from last weekend:

Now squint your eyes. Is it… is it so much different to this equally majestic exegesis on defending, from the ever so slightly less fashionable Roger Johnson?

It is with a combination of wide-eyed awe and confusion we analyse Van Dijk now, holding him up the light to see if he is real like we would an alien lifeform, even recently going so far as to compare him to *gasp* historically quite good football player Rio Ferdinand.

It’s clear that he is very, very good at football, ridiculously good, and at least a galaxy or two better than Roger Johnson. That’s obvious. But at this point he is so good that it basically doesn’t warrant talking about. It simply isn’t worth it nor is it fun anymore. It’d be a bit like discussing, in-depth, whether you think Mike Dean enjoys dishing out yellow cards with all the flamboyance of Copacabana’s most notorious thong model (which, yes, obviously he does, yes). He’s so good it’s become boring.

With that in mind, let’s just talk a minute to talk through some of the real reasons behind the Dutchman’s rise to become the cherry on top of the cream of the crop, the stone-cold facts that from smelling really nice to being able to twat a football out of a stadium, truly make Liverpool’s centre-half the best in the game.

He can control Moussa Sissoko via telepathy

After Liverpool’s last-gasp 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Sunday that kept the Reds in the title race, it was odd that nobody was talking about the Toby Alderweireld/Hugo Lloris fiasco of communication that led to the goal, or Trent Alexander-Arnold’s wonderful first time cross to the far post, or Mo Salah’s fluffed header along the goalmouth.

No, the central talking point following arguably the most important game of the season so far was Van Dijk’s defending of a 2-1 counterattack led by Moussa Sissoko. Yeah, that Moussa Sissoko. Who is a decent player, don’t get me wrong, even if it’s in his own ‘plays the game of football like he’s competing in the sports day sack race’ way, all bumpy touches and lung-busting vertical running.

And whilst the piece of defending itself was pretty impressive, keeping perfect time with Son’s run to cut off the obvious pass, it was Van Dijk’s effortless display of mind control that really set it apart. I mean, how on earth did Spurs not score here? Because Virgil Van Dijk can control Moussa Sissoko’s mind via telepathy, that’s how. Which, funnily enough, is the exact thing missing from Roger Johnson’s 50-yard backpeddle. Telekinesis.

Somehow managing to pull off the goatee/ponytail combo

I mean… look at this man. The audacity of him. He’s called ‘Virgil’ for fuck sake. Have you ever even known anybody called Virgil? Let alone look like this. I am convinced Virgil Van Dijk is the only Virgil in human history handsome enough to not get perpetually rinsed for being called ‘Virgil’ in the first place. And then there’s the goatee/ponytail combo that, on just about any other man in the entire world, would look completely and utterly ridiculous. One alone would be bad enough, but rocking both together? Insanity. And yet… look. at. him.

Oh, to top it all off he’s 6 foot 4 and really good at football and probably a champion of a bloke, too. This is Virgil Van Dijk’s world and we’re all just living in it.

Smelling really nice according to Troy Deeney

Said Troy Deeney of Van Dijk:  “I’ve said it many times, I hate him. I hate going up against him. He’s too big, too strong, too quick, too good on the ball, loves fighting, a good head of hair. One of those guys that sprays on his top as well, so it smells lovely! When he runs past you, it’s like ‘I can’t catch you, but…’.”

Just imagine, for a second, what Virgil Van Dijk smells like. I’m not sure there are words to describe what Virgil Van Dijk must smell like. Virgil Van Dijk must smell like God’s armpit. He must smell like a freshly mown lawn on a spring day, but doused in petrol and crispy bacon. He must smell like waking up the day after a hangover feels. He must smell like Lynx Africa did when you were a 15-year-old boy. He must smell fucking sensational.

Smelling so nice it makes Troy Deeney stop and stare whenever you run past: just one more reason why Virgil Van Dijk is the best in the world.

I hate him but he smells lovely – Troy Deeney on Virgil Van Dijk

He can kick a football out of a stadium

He’s kicked a football out of a stadium, what have you done?

And jump really, really high

Just watch the video. I don’t have anything funny to add about this. Sorry. It’s actually a bit frightening to watch.

He has the best chant going at the moment

Here’s a quick ranking of the best football players in the world based on how good their chant is, rather than actual footballing ability:

  1. Habib Beye (Happy Days theme)
  2. Yaya Toure (The Yaya Toure song)
  3. Kolo Toure (The Yaya Toure song)
  4. John Carew (Que Sera Sera)
  5. Virgil Van Dijk (Dirty Old Town)

1076. Lionel Messi (Does he have a song?)

Here’s a quick ranking of the best football players in the world based on how good their chant is combined with actual footballing ability:

  1. Habib Beye
  2. Virgil Van Dijk
  3. Yaya Toure
  4. Kolo Toure
  5. John Carew
  6. Lionel Messi
  7. Will Grigg

As the average full-back but absolutely incredible chant-having Habib Beye has now retired – I think, let me check, yeah, well, Wikipedia is inconclusive but he is 41 years old, so we can safely assume that, yeah, Habib Beye has retired, last played for Doncaster Rovers in 2012, yeah, probably definitely retired – this unequivocally makes Virgil Van Dijk the best football player in the world, let alone centre-half. No arguments.

Sing us out Jamie.