Everton striker Richarlison has lit the touch paper ahead of the Merseyside derby by stating Virgil van Dijk is not among the best three defenders in the world.
Van Dijk has been outstanding since joining the Reds from Southampton in a then-world record transfer fee for a defender of £75million ($135m AUD) in January 2018.
The Netherlands captain has hardly put a foot wrong for Jurgen Klopp's side, playing a major part in their UEFA Champions League triumph last season and putting them on the brink of the Premier League title this term.
Yet, Brazil international Richarlison does not rate the former Celtic centre-back as the best in his position as they prepare to do battle at Goodison Park on Monday (AEST).
He said in an interview with Desimpedidos: "People talk a lot about him [Van Dijk]. Yes, he is a great defender, but I've already dribbled past him.
"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."
Asked which players he thinks are better than the 28-year-old, he replied: "Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos."
Van Dijk was second behind only Lionel Messi for the Ballon d'Or last year but did land the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.