Lionel Messi Explains Exactly What Makes Virgil Van Dijk So Hard To Get Past
Not many players have managed to get past Virgil van Dijk in the past 18 months, even Lionel Messi struggled, and now Messi has explained exactly why he's so difficult to get past.
When most defenders get dribbled past no one takes much notice, when it happens to Van Dijk, or sometimes when it actually doesn't, it's headline news everywhere.
Even Messi couldn't manage it in last season's Champions League semi final and, talking to Marca, the Barcelona superstar explained why the Dutchman is so difficult to get past, saying, "He is a defender who knows how to judge his timing and wait for the right moment to challenge or jockey.
"He is very fast and big, but he has a lot of agility for his height.
"He is fast because of its great stride, and he is impressive both in defence and attack because he scores lots of goals."
The two player's 'rivalry' has moved away from the pitch this year and to the award evenings of world football. The Liverpool defender became the first defender to win the UEFA Player of the Year award in its current guise.
Messi made it 1-1 as he surprised most to win the FIFA The Best Men's Player of the Year award for the first time, beating Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo into the other podium positions.
In December it's likely that the Ballon d'Or will come down to the two men again, with the Dutchman currently odds on favourite.
Messi has been getting to know another impressive Dutchman this season with Frenkie de Jong already shining at the Nou Camp, just a few months into his start there.
Asked about De Jong's best qualities the 32-year-old said, "It has been easy for him to adapt to the team because he came from a similar philosophy at Ajax. He grew up with the same idea and the same way of playing, although there he did not have much to play as an anterior [slightly further ahead in midfield than the holding midfielder]. As a pivot [or holding midfielder] he feels more comfortable, but he has adapted well.
"He likes to have the ball, play short passes, play passes between the lines, and he has a very fast and strong stride. He is a very complete footballer."
Will Messi manage to get past Van Dijk for the final big award of the season?