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Erling Haaland has named Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk as the toughest defender he has ever faced.
Haaland is accustomed to getting the better of his opponents, having scored an incredible 80 goals in 79 games for Borussia Dortmund.
However, the Norway international admits he has struggled to cope with Van Dijk, naming him as the toughest defender he has come up against.
"You know how tall he is, how strong he is, how fast he is and also the timing is crazy,” Haaland told ESPN.
“I don't think I won one duel against him, because he's a physical monster."
Haaland first faced Van Dijk in 2019 when his former club Red Bull Salzburg were drawn against defending champions Liverpool in the group stage of the Champions League.
Haaland would score in their first meeting at Anfield, which ended in a 4-3 win for Liverpool, while the Reds claimed a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture in Austria.
Haaland also came up against Van Dijk in a World Cup qualifier between Norway and the Netherlands in September last year.
The 21-year-old also managed to score in that match before a Davy Klaassen equaliser secured a 1-1 draw for the Dutch in Oslo.
Haaland would miss the return fixture in November through injury, as Van Dijk captained the Netherlands to a 2-0 win in Rotterdam.
Late goals from Tottenham’s Steven Bergwijn and Barcelona's Memphis Depay booked the Dutch their place at the World Cup in Qatar, while Norway narrowly missed out on a play-off spot to Turkey.
Earlier this week, Haaland gave his opinion on who the top three players are in the world right now.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he named three attackers – Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and PSG star Lionel Messi.
"You have to say Lewandowski is number one and then for me you have Benzema, he's also been amazing, but Messi is also outstanding,” he told ESPN.
"So Benzema and Messi share second and third place."
Haaland has a strong case to be included in that debate after scoring 23 goals in 20 games for Dortmund this season.
His future has been the subject of intense speculation, with a number of Europe’s top clubs reportedly interested in him – including Real Madrid.
Haaland recently hit out at Dortmund for putting him under pressure to sign a new deal.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said he is ready to “move on” from those comments.
"I don't really want to say too much about it but I felt it was time for me to say something," he told Viaplay.
"A lot of others were speaking - so that was it. Now, I don't want to say too much. I said what I said, and now we move on."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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