Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has revealed who the toughest player he has gone up against is, and it was a straight decision between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Netherlands star had a tough campaign last season, spending the majority of it sidelined due to a knee injury he sustained in a Merseyside derby against Everton early on, and subsequently missing 45 games for the Reds.
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He has returned to the club's starting XI with aplomb this season, though, helping Liverpool keep four clean sheets in their first seven Premier League games of the campaign.
Asked recently who the toughest player he has come up against in his career so far is, the 2018/19 UEFA Men's Player of the Year had only one answer.
"I would say Lionel Messi, he's still the best football player in the world," Van Dijk said in an interview with Sky Sports.
"Him and Cristiano [Ronaldo] have been doing unreal numbers in the last decades and it's incredible what they have achieved.
"But in this case, I will choose Messi, we had a tough night at Barcelona [in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final in the 2018/19 campaign]."
The Dutchman also had some words of praise for one of football's brightest new stars.
"[Erling] Haaland is also a special striker, he's strong, he's quick. He's got all the attributes to make a defender’s life very, very difficult," Van Dijk added.
"The first time was when he was at Salzburg, he scored at Anfield. He was very quick, direct.
"[A] bit like how Jamie Vardy plays, but Haaland is a bit stronger than Vardy."
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