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Richarlison trolls Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk ahead of Everton clash

It’s back to mind games and one-upmanship for some.

Perky Everton forward Richarlison has attempted to ruffle the hair of the usually unflappable Van Dijk by saying there are at least three better defenders in the world he prefers than the Liverpool centre-half who had been a really close contender for the Balon d’Or.

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Richarlison has been stirring the waters in an attempt to unsettle Virgil van Dijk ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League visit to Everton on Sunday by blatantly announcing that there are three better defenders in world football.

Van Dijk and his equally erstwwhile teammates continue in their pursuit of their title quest in Sunday’s Goodison Park Merseyside derby, needing just two more wins this season to secure a painfully-awaited and long overdue top-flight crown.

Reds fans were of course hoping their team could end their 30-year title drought earlier this weekend but Pep Guardiola’s boys scuppered that plan by convincingly handing Arsenal a 3-0 defeat on Wednesday night.

Everton forward Richarlison is hoping to stage a further setback for Jurgen Klopp’s side on Sunday evening, and has started the mind games with Van Dijk by reminding him he’s one of the few players to have dribbled past the Liverpool colossus.

Van Dijk has been nothing short of spectacular in playing a crucial role in the Reds becoming world and European club champions and has been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or in the process.

Not wanting to let things be, Richarlison has opted instead to rattle the Liverpool defender by saying he can think of at least three centre-halves who he rates more highly.

“People talk a lot about him, yes he is a great defender but I’ve already dribbled past him,” Richarlison said of Van Dijk in an interview with Desimpedidos .

“He was chosen as one of the top three in the world as he had an excellent season. But yes, for me there are better defenders.”

When asked to name who he thinks supersedes Van Dijk, Richarlison promptly named Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, plus two of his compatriots who play for Paris-Saint Germain.

“Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos,” Richarlison said.

While all this subterfuge is going on, Klopp insists he is not underestimating the challenged posed by Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton this Sunday.

The Liverpool manager said: “When you analyse Everton now you have to look as well to Napoli or any other team because Carlo Ancelotti has a specific way he wants his team to play and he is long enough there now to push that through.

“So, it will be a football-playing side, they will play as much football as we let them.

“We have to find challenges, win challenges, use gaps, find gaps and all that stuff.”

Klopp is urging his players to “stay greedy” going into the game as they look to move within one league crown of Manchester United’s record.

He added: “We have to play through, we have to be 100 per cent disciplined, we have to be full of joy, we have to stay greedy before the game, in the game [and] after the game. That’s all what we need.”

After Sunday’s visit to Everton, Liverpool’s next chance to claim the points they need to be champions will be at home to Crystal Palace next Wednesday.