Virgil van Dijk player

Virgil van Dijk player

Virgil van Dijk is currently one of the most wanted players after his formative years at Napoli. A creative and intelligent defensive midfielder with a solid work-rate, he is equally comfortable on the ball or without it. In other words, he adapts well to any system or style of play. There are certainly a number of quality defensive midfielders in world football, but few can match his versatility and overall talent. Here’s a closer look at his stats and what they mean.

First Tease

If you’re familiar with the poetry of Virgil, you’ll know that the very first lines of the Aeneid, which was written by the great Roman poet, are famously brief: “SIGILLUM METRIPET ANIMI FERME” (literal translation: “marked with a snake’s fang, the fearful signal fires rouse the soul”). While this is certainly dramatic and evocative stuff, it’s also a rather cryptic opening to one of the most celebrated epics in world literature. For those who haven’t read the Aeneid, it basically runs as follows: a young man, who is the son of the Greek hero, Aeneas, flees the fall of Troy following the death of his father. After a series of adventures, which feature lots of fighting, running, and some beautiful poetry, he eventually makes it to the gates of the underworld, where he meets Pluto, the God of the Dead. The two strike up a deal and Virgil is accepted into the company of the Greek gods, where he is given the gift of prophecy. He sees the future of Rome and, in particular, of his childhood friend, Iulus, who would later become the legendary founding father of the city. Fascinating stuff! By the way, if you are betting on sports and want to get a bonus code, go to and collect your bonuses.

It would be remiss of me not to point out that Virgil van Dijk’s name is not actually in the Aeneid. This is just a little bit of literary license as the great Dutchman does indeed make an appearance in the original Spanish. It’s quite a humble beginning for a football player, but as you’ll soon find out, this was certainly no accident.

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The Essential Stats

There are three main stats that you need to know about Virgil van Dijk:

  • He holds the record for the most Premier League appearances by a defender, with 244 in all, including both the English and Scottish top flight. Not bad for a Dutchman. This doesn’t even include cup competitions or international matches. Moreover, he has played a key role in keeping eight different teams competitive in the Premier League over the last six seasons. He is arguably the best Dutch defender of all time and, at the very least, among the most talented.
  • Virgil van Dijk also has an incredible record in keeping clean sheets. He has kept five clean sheets in the league, including a phenomenal three-match run in the spring of this year. Moreover, he only allowed five goals in 581 minutes of action in the Premier League last season. In general, he is considered one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. If you’re unfamiliar, a “clean sheet” is when a goalkeeper doesn’t give the ball away and the team managing the defensive duties keep a tidy defensive line all game. Like a baseball player getting ahold of a shutout, it’s something to cherish. It’s certainly an impressive feat to rack up five in a row.
  • Nowadays, Virgil van Dijk is a regular starter for his national side and he also captained Ajax for a short time in the early 2010s.

With only a few matches remaining in the English Premier League season, it’s the perfect time for us to assess how successful Virgil van Dijk has been on his journey to becoming one of the best players in the world. To do this, we need to look at how his stats stack up against those of the other nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or award. The nominees are, in alphabetical order:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
  • Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
  • Neymar (PSG)
  • Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
  • Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
  • Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)

With the above-listed players in mind, let’s take a closer look at how Virgil van Dijk compares against his Ballon d’Or competitors in terms of the three main stats mentioned above:

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In terms of appearances, Virgil van Dijk clearly comes out on top, having played a total of 648 matches in the Premier League and the Europa League, while his closest competitor, Cristiano Ronaldo, has only played 575 matches in all competitions. You’d think that Ronaldo is a lock for the Ballon d’Or given that he has played more than twice as many matches as Virgil van Dijk. Not so. In fact, for this year’s Ballon d’Or, Ronaldo is merely a contender, as Messi has eclipsed him on the list of nominees. This is hardly a surprise, considering that Messi has played in a more competitive environment than Ronaldo, having set a new world record with more than five games in a row going ahead. While Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to have ever lived, there is no question that Ronaldo still has the better of the two in terms of sheer numbers. However, the fact that Virgil Van Dijk has outperformed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in terms of appearances is still a remarkable feat. So far, so good though – Virgil van Dijk has played only two seasons of professional soccer and already has 10 first-team appearances to his name.

The above picture displays the cumulative attacking stats for the five players named above. Notice how Messi is way ahead of the rest, with 12 goals and 13 assists. This isn’t a bad showing for a player who only turned 23 this year. Indeed, it’s only fair to say that Messi has been one of the best attackers in the world for a very long time, with his ability to both score and create being unrivalled. If you take a closer look at the above table, you’ll see that only two players stand out: Sadio Mane and Virgil Van Dijk. While Mane has only scored twice as many goals as Virgil van Dijk, the latter has made more than twice as many appearances, which is even more impressive given that he’s played the majority of his matches at left-back. This would explain why Liverpool fans have taken to chanting “back to his best defender!” when Mane is under pressure or needs an assist. The same goes for the other way around. The point is that while Virgil van Dijk has had to bide his time in the Dutch League, he has still managed to keep his place in the starting XI and contribute decisively. His 244 total appearances for Napoli are also proof of his reliability and versatility. Let’s not forget that in addition to his native league and Europe’s top flight, Van Dijk has also played in the Bundesliga, the Spanish La Liga, and the Champions League, which is more than most players can say. This speaks volumes for his talent and character. It would be unwise to write off the Dutchman, considering that he’s still got plenty to offer. He may not be the quickest or the most athletic, but few players are as shrewd or as intelligent as Virgil van Dijk. While it’s always nice to see youngsters blossom into promising full-backs or defensive midfielders, let’s not get carried away and call him anything other than what he is: one of the best players in the world and a certified phenom. After all, it took him a while to get to this point. He’s still only 28 years old and has plenty of room for improvement.

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Clean Sheets

The above statistics speak for themselves in terms of Virgil van Dijk’s prowess on the ball. However, they don’t do justice to his all-around ability and contribution to his team. This is where Clean Sheets come in. This is arguably the best stat to measure Virgil van Dijk’s defensive contribution. It takes into account his performance both in terms of the quality of his individual defending as well as the number of goals his team allows. Here’s a look at Virgil van Dijk’s clean sheets in comparison with those of the other nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or award.

Avijit Ghosh