Michael Owen has sensationally claimed that Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is already the greatest centre-back of all time despite only having one Premier League title to his name.
The Dutchman has earned plenty of plaudits since moving to Anfield in a £75million deal from Southampton in January 2018, while he has quickly returned to his dominant best this season after missing much of the 2020-21 campaign with an ACL injury.
Few would argue that Van Dijk is one of the very best centre-backs in the game right now, but Owen has gone one step further and believes the 30-year-old is the best central defender ever.
BT Sport’s pundits were discussing the Netherlands international ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Villarreal, with Rio Ferdinand saying Van Dijk ‘is the best centre-back on the planet right now, easy’.
Owen then weighed in, saying: ‘Well I’d go further. I think he’s the best centre-half of all time.’
Asked what makes him better than Ferdinand and others, Owen continued: ‘He probably scored a few more goals, not much, but we’re talking about the greatest here.
‘As I’ve said, Rio was the best centre-half I ever played with. But with Van Dijk, as a centre-forward I look at him and think: what do you do against him?
‘He’s bigger than everyone, he’s faster than everyone, he’s stronger than everyone, he’s brilliant on the ball, he scores goals. I’ve never seen anything like it.
‘The only thing that goes against Van Dijk at the moment – and I stress, at the moment – is his winners’ medals. He’s only won one Premier League and one Champions League.
‘People like Rio and [Paolo] Maldini and [Franco] Baresi and people like that who you might consider the greatest, they’ve all got numerous. So that’s the only thing that goes against him.
‘But as a one off, I look at him and think: how can you get any better than that?’
Van Dijk also won back-to-back titles with Celtic, but his trophy haul pales in comparison to contemporaries such as Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Thiago Silva, John Terry, Giorgio Chiellini, Vincent Kompany and others.
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