Virgil van Dijk vs Nemanja Vidic as Man Utd and Liverpool fans debate 'Premier League's greatest-ever defender'

A CLASSIC 'best of' Premier League debate is brewing between Virgil van Dijk and Nemanja Vidic.

The legendary pair are in the mix for the division's top centre-back of all-time.

Of course, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Tony Adams can also make a claim to the crown.

But fans have become particularly excited over the battle between van Dijk and Vidic.

After Danny Murphy claimed on Match of the Day 2 that the Liverpool star was the best centre-back he had 'ever seen', thedebate ramped up again.

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Murphy told MOTD2: "[Liverpool] are going to be vulnerable defensively without van Dijk because he is the best in the world.

"He is the best I’ve ever seen. He is that good."

In terms of trophies, Vidic has the edge with five Premier League titles in his nine years with Manchester United.

With just two full seasons under his belt at Liverpool, van Dijk boasts a single league crown with both owning a Champions League winners' medal.

However, it must be said that the Dutchman arrived at Anfield in the midst of a lengthy title drought.

While Vidic signed for United during the Sir Alex Ferguson era, he too landed in a difficult period with Jose Mourinho's Chelsea the dominant side in 2005-06.

When comparing the two defenders for their Premier League stats, it is worth remembering how van Dijk spent his first two-and-a-half years in England with Southampton.

With 211 games to 162, Vidic's sample size is slightly bigger and he comes out on top in a variety of departments.

The Serb's tackles (2) and clearances (11.7) per 90 minutes easily beat van Dijk's tally (1.2 and 5.8).

Furthermore, he has 34 more clean sheets to his name and conceded 0.72 goals per game to 0.96.

However, the Liverpool star is comfortably on top in passes per game, at 68 to 47, with an ability to pass out from the back a key asset of the defender's.

Van Dijk's aerial dominance shows with more headers per 90 minutes (6.6 to 4.8) and a higher percentage of his aerials won than Vidic (74.4 per cent to 73.5 per cent).

The debate rages on with another contender for the crown, Vincent Kompany, admitting his allegiance earlier in the year.

He told Sporf: "I would choose Virgil van Dijk as the best defender in Premier League history.

"It is a strange choice, because he is not in the scene as long as boys like Terry and Ferdinand.

"Those boys have played in the league for a very long time, but the signals that van Dijk gives in his last few seasons make it so clear that if he had gone to the absolute top before, he would be even further."

Naturally, fans debating the matter online showed their loyalty to their team's star player.

One Chelsea fan wrote on Twitter: "Let’s not get this twisted, Terry, Vidic and Rio are levels above Van Dijk."

While a Liverpool supporter tweeted: "Van Dijk is the best centre back easily. No CB ever in the prem has ever had such impact on a team as VVD does with Liverpool. 5 losses in 3 seasons is an outstanding record. He may not have the trophies to rival Vidic, Terry or Rio but he is the overall dream CB."

Another Reds fan agreed, posting online: "Put prime Van Dijk, Ferdinand, Vidic, Terry in the same league and I’m telling you Van Dijk will perform the best."

But a United fan commented: "Van Dijk doesn't even get close to Vidic and Terry, he's currently just the best of a bad bunch, there's no world class CBs around at the moment."

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