Alan Shearer & Micah Richards claim Jaap Stam was better than Virgil van Dijk

Jaap Stam was a superior player to Virgil van Dijk, say both Alan Shearer and Micah Richards. The pair were judging the best in Premier League history.

Alan Shearer and Micah Richards picked their top 10 centre-backs in Premier League history for Match of the Day's Top 10 - and they had a controversial choice in there. Both of them decided to put ex-Manchester United defender Jaap Stam above Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk on their respective lists.

Gary Lineker decided to call that out, with Shearer explaining his decision to opt for a player he'd faced himself.

"I played against him," said Shearer. "He's as hard as they come, as good as they come. Physical, can play a bit. The three seasons, if I'm correct in saying, he did with Man United, they won the title every year with him there.

"He got into the PFA Team [of the Year] every year he was at Man United. So yeah, he's outstanding - quick as well, by the way. Still had a big frame but still quick."

Richards then made half a case for Van Dijk perhaps being better.

"The only thing I was thinking about why I might have put Van Dijk higher - but I didn't because of what Alan's just said, you know, going off the stats, but without Van Dijk I don't think [Liverpool] win the league."

It isn't easy to know where you start with all this, admittedly.

The fact that Stam is getting praise because he could 'play a bit' when Van Dijk is one of the best ball-playing defenders ever is something to behold, as is hailing Stam for his pace - another area that his compatriot quite plainly has him beat.

Shearer is correct, though. Stam did win the Premier League in all three of his seasons with United and made the PFA Team of the Year in each. Somehow, he managed that in year three despite playing just 15 games (and the equivalent of under 14 90s), so we're not entirely sure how legitimate that is as an argument.

But discussing individual awards as a comparison with Van Dijk should be a no-contest, given he boasts more than any other defender to play in the Premier League. Three PFA Team of the Year awards, PFA Player of the Year, Ballon d'Or runner-up...

Richards perhaps comes closest to the point at the end there. Liverpool don't win the title, nor rack up record points totals without Van Dijk at the back. United replaced Stam with Rio Ferdinand and went right back to winning titles.

Van Dijk, though, is completely irreplaceable. It's likely going to take his retirement for people to entirely grasp that.

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