Erling Haaland has picked out Virgil van Dijk as the toughest opponent he has had during his time with Manchester City, suggesting that the Liverpool star is unreal in the air.
Haaland was speaking to BT Sport ahead of the Champions League final. Of course, Erling Haaland has an opportunity to win the Treble in his first season at the Etihad Stadium.
Few defenders have got the better of the Norwegian this year. But Liverpool did have some success, with the Reds becoming only the second team this season to stop Haaland scoring back in October.
Erling Haaland lauds Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk was outstanding that day on Merseyside. And when asked by Rio Ferdinand about dealing with the physicality of playing in England, Haaland suggested that the Dutchman stood out as an opponent who got the better of him.
“The most difficult, we struggled at Anfield I remember. Van Dijk, I always said it, I think he’s so good. But the good thing also about it is I’m meeting Ruben Dias, Akanji, Ake in training every single day. Training is not easy,” he told BT Sport.
“Yeah I think so. He was so good,” he added, when asked if the Liverpool star was his toughest opponent yet. “But Van Dijk, I like him a lot. He’s smart, fast, and in the air, he’s just unreal as well.”
Obviously, it was a really disappointing year for Jurgen Klopp’s side. The victory against Pep Guardiola’s men was a highlight. But it was largely a campaign which showed how the time has come for Liverpool to refresh their ranks.
However, van Dijk remains such an important part of the side at Anfield. He has had his ups and downs over the last few years. But it was not too long ago that he was being considered perhaps the best centre-back in the world.
Liverpool have some talented players knocking on the door. And you would imagine that more are going to arrive over the summer as the transfer window rolls on.
But replacing van Dijk is going to be such a tough task for Liverpool in the years to come. Certainly, it says something that Haaland picked him out as the defender he really struggled against from this season.