Tottenham forward Lucas Moura says he thinks Virgil van Dijk was one of the top three players in the world last season, but questioned the infamous stat about the Dutchman being impossible to dribble past.
The Dutchman’s monumental performances for club and country this season have seen him thrust into the conversation for the Ballon d’Or, alongside Liverpool teammates Mohamed Salah and Alisson.
It has been claimed that the only player to successfully complete a dribble past Van Dijk last season was Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, on international duty with Germany in November – but Moura isn’t so sure.
“They say he hasn’t been dribbled past since… whatever. If the guy is past him, it’s already a dribble.
“I don’t know, but the guys must have gone past him now.
“I know I scored a goal against Liverpool, we lost, but I scored against Liverpool and he was left behind. But he’s great. He is.”
26-year-old Moura was the hero of Spurs’ stunning Champions League semi-final comeback against Ajax, scoring a hat-trick in Amsterdam, but had to settle for a place on the bench in the final against Van Dijk and Liverpool.
He came on as a second-half substitute for midfielder Harry Winks but was unable to turn the tide as Van Dijk’s man-of-the-match performance helped Jurgen Klopp’s side to their sixth European title.
“Hey, the guy’s good,” Moura admitted. “He’s two metres tall, strong, and the Liverpool team is a very good fit, with a lot of chemistry.
“So he had an excellent season. He was elected the best in the Premier League, I think.
“In the world… there are a lot of people there. But for the season, I think he’s among the top three. Among the top three!”
In what was undoubtedly one of the least entertaining Champions League finals of recent years, one of the defining moments of quality came from Van Dijk as he ushered Spurs forward Heung-min Son away from goal as he threatened an equaliser at 1-0.
Moura admitted to being upset at having to start on the bench, but it was nothing compared to the pain of defeat.
"Of course I got upset," he said. "I wish I had started. But I got so much more upset that we lost.
"We really believed that we could be champions. And man, it was difficult. I cried a lot after the game. Because it was so close, so close."