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“A man playing in a kids’ game” – Virgil van Dijk receives huge praise despite Everton draw

Virgil van Dijk was described as “a man playing in a kids’ game” after another outstanding performance for Liverpool in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Everton.

The Reds were far from their best at Goodison Park, and especially in the final third where Mohamed Salah in particular struggled to produce anything close to top form.

It was a game which saw Everton continue to stifle their rivals’ creativity, and even resembled the more threatening outfit at stages.

The majority of their attacks were thwarted by Van Dijk, however, with the Dutchman winning 10 aerial duels, at least four more than any other player, and making 13 clearances, four clear of the Joel Matip, who made the second-most.

In a remarkably consistent first full campaign on Merseyside, the No. 4 has been widely touted as a frontrunner for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Jamie Carragher is firmly behind this, with the Liverpool legend’s praise for his successor reflecting the views of most supporters.

“Van Dijk’s performance today was unbelievable. I think he should be PFA Player of the Year,” he told Sky Sports on Sunday.

“Maybe it’s too early for that, but today, if he’s not playing, I think Everton win the game.

“He looks like a man playing in a kids’ game. He’s playing against some of the top players in European football in the Premier League, but everything is so easy.

“You actually feel like he’s not getting tested enough. You still feel like there are more gears for him to go into.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 3, 2019: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 233rd Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Despite the disappointment of dropping two points at Goodison and going one behind Man City at the top of the league, this draw saw Liverpool keep their 17th clean sheet of the domestic season.

Alisson leads the way for the Golden Glove award, with City’s Ederson (14) second and Chelsea‘s Kepa (11) way behind in third, but the Brazilian’s accomplishments are aided significantly by his defence.

Van Dijk plays a big role in that, with Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold the standouts in Klopp’s first-choice back line—though Matip has been excellent of late.

Graeme Souness, joining Carragher in the Sky Sports studio, echoed his praise and added that at 26, 27, 21, 24 and 20 respectively, Alisson, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold “could play for a decade together.”

If Jurgen Klopp can maintain this defensive unit, and they all stay fit once Gomez returns, they could be the bedrock of Liverpool’s success for many years to come.

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