EXCLUSIVE – Ex-Southampton defender Jose Fonte has hailed the talent of his former defensive partners Virgil van Dijk and Toby Alderweireld.
Alderweireld and van Dijk, who both excelled during their respective spells on the South Coast, will go head-to-head when Tottenham take on Liverpool in the Champions League final on Saturday.
Fonte’s history with Alderweireld and Van Dijk: five key things to know…
- Fonte played for Southampton in League One, the Championship and the Premier League, making 288 appearances across seven-and-a-half seasons.
- Alderweireld partnered Fonte in the heart of the Saints’ defence while on loan from Atletico Madrid in 2014/15.
- Southampton conceded just 33 goals in league 38 games that season.
- Alderweireld signed for Spurs in the summer of 2015, and Southampton replaced him with Van Dijk.
- The Saints conceded 41 goals in 38 league matches with Van Dijk and Fonte at centre-back.
Fonte played with both players at St Mary’s, forming a solid partnership with the on-loan Alderweireld before enjoying a spell next to Van Dijk prior to the Dutchman’s record-breaking move to Anfield.
But when asked who was better, Fonte struggled to pick one over the other.
“Van Dijk and Alderweirled – it’s very difficult to choose,” Fonte told Squawka. “They’re both amazing players and obviously Van Dijk is undoubtedly the best defender in the world.
“But I had an amazing season with Alderweireld. We had the second-best defence in the league just behind Chelsea. If I’m not wrong we conceded 33 goals in 38 games which is amazing.
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“Alderweireld has great composure and is great on long balls – he had a great year with me but Van Dijk is a force of a nature, he’s super fast, so tall, he wins every ball.
“Van Dijk is undoubtedly the best defender in the world, but I’ve enjoyed playing with both, I can’t choose one. They’re both different players but at the same time both amazing.”
Van Dijk vs Alderweireld: a stats comparison
Van Dijk has emerged as arguably the world’s best centre-back since joining Liverpool, and most of his statistics suggest he is superior to Alderweireld.
Since the two players arrived in the Premier League, Van Dijk has a superior passing success rate, completing 88.37% of his passes to Alderweireld’s 86.3%. The Dutchman has also made more successful passes per 90 minutes (63.42) than Alderweireld (55.55).
The Spurs man comes out on top in terms of tackles, winning 0.97 tackles per 90 to Van Dijk’s 0.88. The Belgian makes more blocks, too – Alderweireld makes 0.63 per 90 while Van Dijk makes 0.56.
But van Dijk is totally dominant when it comes to duels. He has won 7.11 total duels and an incredible 5.03 aerials per 90 minutes. Alderweireld has only managed 3.02 total duels and 1.48 aerials.
Remarkably, both players have made just one error leading to a goal in the Premier League.