Virgil van Dijk rolling back the years with return of famous stat

Rumours of Virgil van Dijk's decline have been greatly exaggerated.

After a disappointing season in 2022/23, some claimed that the Dutch centre back – once hailed as the best in the world – was over the hill, while others pointed to the serious knee injury he suffered back in 2020 as a contributing factor in his decline.

However, after taking over the Liverpool captaincy this summer, Van Dijk has has proved the doubters wrong by coming back as strong as ever this season.

After 14 games so far in 2023/24, Van Dijk's Reds have the joint-fewest defeats (one) of any team in the Premier League and the joint-fewest goals conceded (14), as they aim to mount a title challenge once again.

On a personal level, the 32-year-old has been utterly dominant, with some of his defensive numbers even outperforming those from his peak years when he was pushing for the Ballon d'Or.

Perhaps the most emblematic stat from Van Dijk's prime was the fact that during the 2018/19 Premier League season, the centre back was not dribbled past once – an incredible feat that elevated him from a regular defender into a sort of mythical end-of-level boss that no attacker could seem to pass.

In fact, in all competitions in 2018/19, Van Dijk was only dribbled past once across 56 appearances for club and country – and that solitary occasion came in a Nations League draw with Germany in which he also scored a late equaliser.

Fast forward to 2023/24 and the Dutchman is currently on track for the same remarkable achievement.

WhoScored report that "of the 203 centre-backs across Europe's top seven leagues to have started 10+ matches this season, only Virgil van Dijk is yet to be dribbled past".

He may be the wrong side of 30 and injuries may have had an impact, but the former Southampton man is still pretty-much peerless in world football.

It's not just on the floor that Liverpool's number four is dominating.

Brentford's Ethan Pinnock (66) is the only defender to have won more aerials duels than the Liverpool skipper (59) in the league this season to date, while Van Dijk's 5.2 aerials won per 90 is the highest of any defender.

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