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Man Utd fans drop brutal verdict as Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk tipped for Ballon d’Or

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Man Utd fans drop brutal verdict as Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk tipped for Ballon d'Or

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The towering Dutchman established himself as the best centre-back in the Premier League this season, transforming Liverpool’s shaky backline into the best defence in the country.

With 20 clean sheets alongside four goals and two assists, Van Dijk was voted PFA Players’ Player of the Year but narrowly missed out on the Premier League title.

His thirst for a major club trophy was quenched three weeks later, however, as he was named Man of the Match in Liverpool’s 2-0 Champions League final win over Tottenham.

After that game, the 27-year-old became favourite to pip five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi to the most prestigious individual prize in football.

Large sections of Manchester United fans have watched on bitterly, however, feeling that Van Dijk’s performances have been overhyped in an era where old-fashioned defending is a lost art.

The argument many Old Trafford goers posed was that their beloved Nemanja Vidic posted far better statistics in United’s title-winning 2008/09 season.

Indeed, the Serbian registered three more clean sheets (23), conceded six fewer goals (16), and made more eight blocks (26), 31 more interceptions (71), 17 more tackles (45) and 161 more clearances (360) than Van Dijk, who trumped Vidic in aerial battles won (181 to 129).

Vidic played four fewer games, too, and scored the same amount – although could not compete with Van Dijk’s near-impeccable discipline record, being shown just one yellow card.

Football on BT Sport posed the question to their Twitter followers on Saturday afternoon and received thousands of replies, sparking fierce debate between Liverpool and United fans.

“Van Dijk and it isn’t even remotely close,” reads the top comment, which was replied to with a meme of “that’s bait” from a United fan.

Several other members of the Old Trafford faithful filled the mentions with “Vidic”, many of which receive hundreds of likes.

“Is this really a question,” retorted one United supporter, citing the statistics comparison.

“Level of performances by defenders have declined massively in recent years, hence the hype about Virgil’s performances!” argued another.

Speaking after the Champions League final about the potential of claiming the Ballon d’Or, Van Dijk said: “I think Lionel Messi is the best player in the world.

“He should win the Ballon d’Or. So I’m not thinking of that.

“But if I win, I’ll take it. Messi should win it though. He is the best in the world, whether he’s in the [Champions League] final or not.”

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