When Liverpool and Manchester City square off in their titanic clash at the top of the Premier League, there will be no shortage of star power on the pitch at any given time. Two of those stars however reside on the defensive side of things in the form of Virgil Van Dijk and Ruben Dias.
In this article I take a look to see who means more. Let’s get into it.
When you are judging the importance of a player to a club, one of the first things I like to do is examine how they perform in his absence.
Is there a significant drop-off in the play or is it mitigated by others stepping into that role? Using this metric, I think it is clear that Virgil Van Dijk means much more to Liverpool.
Now, this is no slight towards Dias who is arguably the second best defender in the Premier League. However, City boasts much more defensive depth than the Reds do.
Were Virgil to miss an extended amount of time, as he did a few years ago, the club clearly suffers. His leadership and ability to organize the defense in any situation is almost unmatched by his peers.
While Dias brings a level of week-to-week consistency that very few can match, Pep still has a handful of solid options that he could plug and play if needed.
Another aspect into how much a player means to a club is how vital they are to the system being implemented.
As I stated above, nobody at Liverpool can marshal the defense quite like the Captain. His intelligence both on and off the ball is something that permeates throughout the squad on matchday.
The intense pressing style that Jurgen Klopp wants to deploy does not come off as aggressively without big No. 4 cleaning up at the back. As for Dias, his play style is very smooth and unique, but he is just one piece in the City machine.
The ball retention playstyle that is encouraged by Pep and his staff is so difficult to defend that taking one player out does not spell doom and gloom on the day.
Both of these men are extremely strong in the air and win the majority of the their duels which means corners and other set-pieces could be a massive game changer.
In addition, they are both adept at long range passing as both possess the ability to spring an attack from almost nothing.
Taking a step back, it is very clear that both Virgil Van Dijk and Ruben Dias are supremely talented and few players on their respective squads mean more.
However, for the sake of this piece, I would say that between the two, Virgil is the far more important to his team being successful and long may he continue in this rich vein of form.