Erling Haaland hails “f***ing smart” Virgil van Dijk as world’s best

Dortmund striker Erling Haaland has praised Virgil van Dijk as the best centre-back in the world, with the Liverpool defender responding to his upcoming opponent.

Haaland is one of the most exciting young players in world football and, at 21, already one of the most feared strikers in Europe.

The Norwegian has scored 63 goals in 64 appearances since joining Dortmund in 2020, along with 29 in 27 for former club Salzburg and seven in 12 for his national team.

Wednesday night pits him against Van Dijk for the third time in his career as Norway host the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier, and in his pre-match press conference, Haaland heaped praise on Liverpool’s No. 4.

“I think he is the best defender,” he told reporters, as relayed by TV2. “I think quite a few others in the room agree with me on that.

“He is fast, strong and fucking smart, and those are three important things you must have.

“I have played against him twice and he is the best I have met. He is a good player, so we have to try to play around him.”

In response, VG quote Van Dijk as saying: “Did he say that? That was kind of him.”

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: FC Salzburg's Erling Braut Haaland (L) and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the final UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

An entertaining speaker, Haaland’s relationship with Van Dijk could bode well if Liverpool make a move for the striker in the future – which most fans would certainly wish for.

Due to a release clause in his contract with Dortmund, Haaland could leave the club for as little as £63.9 million next summer – though the Bundesliga side are reported to be looking to raise this to £76.6 million.

Either way, given Haaland’s blend of potential and remarkable current ability, that would still resemble a bargain for any top-level club.