Prior to that fateful Champions League night of June 8th of this year, the greatest player of all time, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, would have been forgiven having overlooked Jürgen Klopp’s upstart Liverpool.
Sure, the historic English club had been making quite a bit of noise over there on that rowdy island in recent seasons, but they hadn’t actually won anything of significance in nearly two decades. He on the other hand, was the GOAT and they were Barcelona which meant that winning was their birthright…right?
Of course, a healthy serving of Anfield and heavy-metal football ensued, and the great Lionel Messi learned that Liverpool were a team to be respected.
One Red who stood out to the Barcelona legend was defender Virgil Van Dijk, a player who, to be fair, stood out to quite a number of people in a Ballon d’Or caliber year.
“He is a defender that knows how to judge the timing and wait for the right moment to get in or hold on,” Messi speaking to Marca magazine said of the Dutchman.
”He is very fast and big, but he has a lot of agility for his height.
”He is fast because of his great stride and is impressive, both in defense and attack, because he scores many goals.”
The Liverpool no. 4 was the cornerstone of Europe’s stingiest defense last season, leading Liverpool to the Champions League trophy and the Dutch national team to the final of the Nations League.
The stellar campaign has seen the defender challenge Messi in the competition of this year’s top individual honors, sitting currently as favorite to win December’s Ballon d’Or award having bested the Argentine to win UEFA Men’s Player of the Year so far.