Pep Guardiola was utterly besotted with Virgil van Dijk after Manchester City and Liverpool played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The top two sides delivered another classic Premier League encounter played at a furious pace. It got tasty at times but the rivalry is largely respectful and saw Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp warmly embrace at the full-time whistle.
Guardiola also had a chat with Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold during the game.
Este abraço entre Guardiola e Klopp diz muito do que foi este jogo ❤️ pic.twitter.com/yep8v3Dg8L— B24 🇺🇦 (@B24PT) April 10, 2022
But post-match, he also went out of his way to share a moment with Van Dijk, who had produced another strong defensive showing and made Raheem Sterling look like a little boy in the second half in one notable battle.
The Dutch defender was doing his TV interviews when Guardiola approached him.
The City boss held onto Van Dijk's hand for a very long time and appeared to say, 'You know what you did!' to the former Southampton man.
⭐️⭐️ Pep et VVD à la fin du match. pic.twitter.com/SVQfrxLcfG— Blue Moon (@FRBlueMoon) April 10, 2022
In response, Van Dijk said, "I know, I'll speak to him" - though it's not known exactly what the pair were in conversation about.
There was a polite pat on the shoulder from Van Dijk before Guardiola playfully slapped Liverpool's No.4 on the arm and allowed to speak to the media.
Guardiola was desperate to sign Van Dijk when he was at Southampton and a deal was said to be close in 2017.
However, they were put off by the price tag and ended up signing Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for £57 million.
Van Dijk would then sign for Liverpool in a £75 million switch, becoming the world's most expensive defender.
But he's more than justified his price tag, helping the Reds to the Champions League, Premier League and Carabao Cup courtesy of a series of imperious displays.
And in July 2020, Van Dijk admitted Klopp was a key factor in him moving to Anfield.
"I had the chance to go to Chelsea and Man City," Van Dijk said, as per the Manchester Evening News.
"When you compare the clubs, you look at the history, the town, the current squad, their plans for the near future.
“But the most important thing you look at is the manager – and Jurgen Klopp is an important reason why I chose for Liverpool.
“Klopp has something special. Is it his energy? Is it his overall image?
“I sometimes sit and think about what he does and what he has more than others.
“I think it is his man-management. These days that is more important than anything in football.
“Klopp gives you this great feeling. He is genuinely happy when you walk into the club in the morning."
After Sunday's gem of a game, City remain one point clear at the top of the table in an unbelievably competitive title race that is reminiscent of the 2018/19 season.
On that occasion City pipped Liverpool by a single point on the final day and lifted a second consecutive title.
Featured Image Credit: Image: Twitter
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