'Difficult to play against': Virgil van Dijk raves about £110m star Chelsea reportedly could sign this summer

Virgil van Dijk has delivered his verdict on Darwin Nunez ahead of a potential move to Chelsea this summer.

Speaking on Rio Ferdinand’s YouTube channel, the Liverpool defender named Nunez as one of the toughest opponents he’s faced in his career.

Van Dijk has played against some of the Premier League greats and Europe’s finest, so to include the Benfica attacker in his list speaks volumes.

Nunez came face-to-face with the Dutch defender during the Champions League quarter-final earlier this season.

Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

UEFA MUST STOP! NEW CHAMPIONS LEAGUE COULD RUIN FOOTBALL

Although Jurgen Klopp’s men progressed, the Portuguese side certainly gave them a run for their money.

Especially their tall frontman, who caused Liverpool’s back-line all kind of problems across the two legs.

Van Dijk delivers verdict on Darwin

In both fixtures, Nunez etched his name on to the score sheet, taking his tally in the competition up to six.

He dispatched his goal at home with real poise and precision, skills not often associated with a centre-forward of such size.

But that is exactly what makes Nunez such a threat; he can beat you in the air and on the ground.

“A different striker we face in the name of (Erling) Haaland, but also Darwin,” said Van Dijk following his bout with the Benfica star.

“Similar, very direct, quick, tall, strong and it’s quite difficult to play against those kind of guys.”

The destroyer of defences

Don’t worry, Virgil, you’re not alone in finding Nunez problematic.

Just ask the numerous other centre-backs who failed to stop him during a campaign full of explosions.

He scored 34 times in total, despite missing several games because of a knee problem.

Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Only nine players on the continent bettered Nunez’s return of 26 league goals, including the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema.

Hence why there is such interest to prize the Uruguay international away from the Estadio da Luz.

One of those reportedly intent on snatching the striker is Chelsea, as they gear up to possibly lose Romelu Lukaku in the next few months.

As replacements go, on paper, Nunez wouldn’t be a half-bad option.

Although, the 22-year-old could cost close to £110m, over half the transfer budget Todd Boehly will apparently give to Thomas Tuchel.

Perhaps put Darwin on the back burner, for now.

Keep up to date with all the latest Chelsea news and opinion by following The Chelsea Chronicle’s Facebook and Twitter accounts

Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.