Virgil van Dijk names ex-Arsenal and Chelsea star as toughest opponent

Virgil van Dijk has named ex-Chelsea and Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud as the toughest opponent he has faced throughout his career.

The Liverpool captain has been widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world for the best part of the last decade, notably making the Reds title-challengers instantaneously upon joining the club during the 2017/18 season for a whopping £75m.

Since signing for Liverpool, Van Dijk has helped the club to a Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Champions League titles – winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and UEFA Men’s Player of the Year awards thanks to his stunning performances.

Having played at the top of the game for a number years, the defender has expectedly come up against some of the very best forwards in modern history.

He has faced off against Premier League greats like Sergio Aguero as well as greatest-of-all-time contenders like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But when asked by L’Equipe who his toughest opponent has been, Van Dijk surprisingly named towering France international Giroud.

“I think that Olivier Giroud [is the toughest attacker I have played against],” said Van Dijk.

Olivier GiroudOlivier Giroud

Giroud is a handful / Stefano Guidi/GettyImages

“Every time, you think you’ve got a hold of him, that you’ve got him well marked, but he always manages to score in one way or another: with his head, his foot, his knee. He has often scored against me.”

Van Dijk has come up against Giroud on 14 occasions, with the striker scoring six goals in said games.

Having enjoyed successful spells with both Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League between 2012 and 2021 – scoring 144 for the London clubs combined – the striker has continued to impress well into his late thirties at AC Milan in Serie A.

Despite now being 37, Giroud has managed to his double figures in Serie A in each of the last three seasons – becoming the first Milan to achieve this feat in over a decade with his goal in the weekend win over AS Roma.


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