Liverpool ace Virgil van Dijk names ex-Arsenal and Chelsea man Olivier Giroud as his toughest ever opponent | Football


Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has great admiration for Olivier Giroud (Picture: Getty)

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has picked out Olivier Giroud as the toughest opponent he has ever faced, labelling the veteran AC Milan striker his ‘bogeyman’.

Van Dijk, 32, is widely regarded as one of the finest centre-backs of the modern era and has gone into battle against many of the greatest attacking players on the planet at both club and international level.

Remarkably, no opposition player has managed to dribble past Van Dijk this season, but the Dutchman admits he has often struggled against France international Giroud, 37, formerly of Arsenal and Chelsea down the years.

Speaking to France Football, Van Dijk described how Giroud has always found success against him by hook or by crook and is no doubt relieved the Frenchman quit the Premier League to ply his trade in Italy back in 2021.

Asked to name his toughest opponent, the Netherlands international replied: ‘Olivier Giroud. Every time, you think you’ve got a hold of him, that you’ve got him well marked, but he always manages to score in one way or another: with his head, his foot, his knee.

‘He has often scored against me.

‘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.’

Virgil van Dijk embraces Olivier Giroud after the Netherlands' clash with France

Van Dijk and Giroud have had numerous battles down the years (Picture: Getty)

Van Dijk revealed he even shared a joke with Giroud after the forward got on the scoresheet in Liverpool’s 5-3 victory over Chelsea at Anfield back in July 2020.

He added: ‘I said to him when we won the Premier League, we won 5-3 we were 3-0 up or something and he scored a scrappy goal, I think it was against the crossbar and fell down, scrappy goal, I said to him: “You scored again?!”

‘So I would say heis the guy that scores against me, and just that annoying person.’

The ex-Celtic and Southampton man – the Premier League Player of the Season in 2018/19 – went on to name-check Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Erling Haaland as some of his toughest opponents.

‘There’s so many fantastic strikers I’ve played against,’ Van Dijk went on.

‘Messi, Aguero, Haaland is a difficult one because he has everything, but I’m going for Giroud as he’s my bogeyman – annoying!’

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