Former Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton has branded Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk as a ‘god’ and a ‘colossus’.
Van Dijk has been colossal at the back for the Reds since joining from Southampton in January 2018.
Since his arrival at Anfield, Liverpool have won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and their first League Championship for 30 years.
Many in the game view the defender, who is currently sidelined with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury sustained in October’s Merseyside derby, as the best in the world.
Barton made the claims when asked what he hoped to teach his Bristol City players by showing them videos of great defenders.
But despite high praise, the former City midfielder, who was born and raised in Huyton, would rather have Franco Baresi in his hypothetical dream line-up.
He told Bristol Live : “Well, defending mate. Just to show them the best defenders come in all shapes and sizes. It’s an attitude.
“I asked the boys yesterday who is the best defender of the modern era. The names start coming out: Virgil Van Dijk, Sergio Ramos, Ashley Cole.
“You have to offer a few. A few like Roberto Ayala, Beckenbauer, Bobby Moore, Franco Baresi, and you show them.
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“Virgil van Dijk is a god. He’s 6ft 85in, he’s got muscles everywhere, not a blemish on his face, modelling contracts everywhere, he’s a colossus.
“But your flipside of that is Franco Baresi who looks like someone who’s been dragged in off the street, and I’m telling you I’d rather have Baresi in my time.
“Virgil is outstanding, but Baresi, for the competition and the way he competed and used his body and never let the striker have a moment. That’s an attitude, not a physical output.”