I watched, as I’m sure most of us did, the game between Liverpool and Manchester City the other night with a great deal of admiration for the individual talents on display. Before the game, everyone who had an interest in the match was talking, it seemed to me, about just one player; the big City striker Erling Haaland, and not without good cause.
By the time the game finished, it was another two players who had stolen the show. Salah was excellent, and he took his goal brilliantly. But it was another player from the Anfield side who should have been at the centre of the headlines and that was big Virgil Van Dijk.
He had said before the match, in an extensive Sky interview, that he was looking forward to going up against Haaland. He played as if his life depended on it. But there were no crazy, rash tackles.
No rough-housing. Just quality versus quality … and Van Dijk won.
What a player we had on our hands when he was a Parkhead.
Was there any sign, then, that we were watching a football of true world class talent? Was there any indication that we were watching the man who would grow into being the best centre back in the world?
Some folk will say yes. People tell me often how they knew that he was way, way too good for Scottish football. My mate says he used to think, after games, that he performed at times like a dad playing football with his kids in the park, such was the ease with which he strolled through this division. I never thought of him in that way at all.
I believed he was an excellent central defender, for sure, but I would be lying if I said I had the slightest inkling we were watching a world beater. Does that mean we might be watching one of them at Celtic Park right now?
If so I think there are four possible candidates, and that’s incredible. I’m going to go through them one at a time, and you guys can tell me if you agree.