Puyol: Van Dijk complete defender, Ronaldo great player but Messi the best ever

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 01: Lionel Messi of Barcelona battles for possession with Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Barcelona and Liverpool at the Nou Camp on May 01, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

The Camp Nou legend has paid homage to a fellow centre-half, while also saluting the qualities of an all-time great he once played alongside

Virgil van Dijk has been billed as “the complete defender” by a man who knows what it takes to thrive in such a role, Carles Puyol, with the Barcelona legend also labelling Lionel Messi “the best player in history”.

“Van Dijk is one of the best in the world,” Puyol told the Independent of a man named UEFA Player of the Year for 2018-19 .

“He is the complete defender, always calm, a great player. The spotlight usually goes to the strikers, so it is nice to see a special defender get deserved recognition.”

Puyol added, with Van Dijk competing alongside two modern-day greats: “It’s true that in recent years Messi for me is the best, and it’s difficult to compare to him because to me he’s the best player in history.

“We’ve also had Cristiano who’s a great player. And the two have always been there, and few players have had the opportunity to win an individual trophy.

“Having these two players in this era, he’s [Van Dijk] doing an excellent job and I’m very happy for him.”