The world’s best attacker vs world’s best defender: Virgil van Dijk is the man to build a Kop empire… but Liverpool already fear Lionel Messi running at their player of the year

There is a video clip doing the rounds of Virgil van Dijk facing the might of Barcelona in the Nou Camp and performing brilliantly.

It features Liverpool’s recently-crowned PFA player of the year, then in the green and white hoops of Celtic, blocking, tackling and pretty much forming a one-man barrier to wave after wave of red and blue attacks.

There are two things to note. Firstly, Barcelona were without Lionel Messi on that December night in 2013. Secondly, they scored six goals in what was, at times, a mesmerising performance under Catalan lights.

Van Dijk, all £75m of him, returns to Barcelona on Wednesday night and the Argentinian magician will be very much present. It is a contest which is being billed as the best versus the best – and few could argue with that.

Put simply, Van Dijk is already one of the most important men in Liverpool’s long history, and that is before he has lifted a trophy of note in a red shirt. The impact his arrival has had on Jurgen Klopp’s side cannot be underestimated.

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