Reason for Van Dijk’s fight with Richarlison – and brutal remark that followed

There’s been no shortage of drama in Merseyside derbies in recent years.

Whether it’s Luis Suarez diving in front of David Moyes after the Everton manager called him out for simulation or Jurgen Klopp confronting a Goodison ball boy, it’s always a fixture that produces the good in terms of entertainment value.

There’s a reason why it’s the most-watched fixture in the Premier League calendar every season.

Two figures who have been prominent on derby day as of late are Virgil van Dijk and Richarlison.

The Liverpool defender’s presence has been sorely missed this season as he suffered a season-ending injury because, more often than not, he’s usually in the thick of the action.

The centre-half scored his first Reds goal in front of the kop in a dramatic 2-1 win against the Toffees in 2018 as he fired Klopp’s men into the fourth round of the FA Cup following his £75million move from Southampton.

Everton’s Richarlison (left) and Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield

And from that point on, he’s been a focal point in the encounter.

Meanwhile, Richarlison seems to be the main protagonist for Everton against their city rivals while he tends to bring his best stuff for these occasions, which is exactly why he’s endeared himself to the Goodison Park faithful.

It was almost inevitable these two would lock horns at some stage.

And they did exactly that in December 2018 as the two were at the fore of a five-minute fight between the two sides.

The pair squared up and exchanged some words before they were eventually separated.

Liverpool ended up winning the match 1-0 but the altercation was the main talking point in the aftermath as the two big-name stars from either side almost came to blows.

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool and Richarlison of Everton square up to each other
Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool and Richarlison of Everton square up to each other

Richarlison opened up about the flashpoint 18 months down the line and revealed he was actually trying to time waste while it was 0-0 to hold onto a point.

That didn’t quite materialise, but he had some choice words for the defender during the heated exchange.

He told Globo Esporte : “Of course I was never going to back down. There was a disagreement during the game, which ended up in the typical heated way.

“I was also having the fight to waste time, and the Liverpool players did not like it. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez tried to get involved.

“But it was nothing out of the ordinary. In the whole fight we wasted five minutes, which was good for the team. I said (to Van Dijk) in Portuguese: ‘who do you think you are?’

“They were defending their colours and we were defending ours, it was a typical derby.”

From that point on, the pair have not seen eye to eye.

Richarlison would later claim van Dijk is overrated, citing Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos as better centre-backs than the Liverpool man.

It’s a match-up the fixture has definitely missed this season, but it’s something to look out for next year as the Dutchman returns from his long-term injury.

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