It was billed as a titanic battle between two heavyweights when Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk lined up against Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku on Saturday.
However, the Dutchman rarely was troubled by the Blues’ £97.5m signing during the entire 90 minutes. BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson claims the Dutchman is a “Rolls Royce”, comparing him to Anfield great Alan Hansen:
“The game’s easy to him. It was like when Hansen played, it was just too easy. He never got his kit dirty, it was like ‘what’s your problem?’ when you’d come off covered in blood and snot and everything and he’d just walk off and basically give his kit to the kit-man and tell him he won’t need to wash it this week. Everyone keeps going on about Van Dijk and Hansen is the closest person that I can think of that’s comparable.”
Van Dijk’s performance was all the more remarkable when you consider the fact that the 30-year-old had spent over nine months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
The Chelsea game was only his third competitive start for Liverpool since last October, but it didn’t look like he had ever been away. The away side did score the opener but that came from a lack of concentration from a corner, which van Dijk couldn’t do anything about.
Of course, after the sending off of Reece James, the game was easier to manage but, even so, Van Dijk’s class stood out among everyone else on the pitch.