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 £75 million in January 2018.
The Netherlands captain has hardly put a foot wrong for Jurgen Klopp's side, playing a major part in their 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 Sunday.
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.
Liverpool are only two wins away from their first Premier League title and their first top division crown in 30 years, having established a mammoth 25-point lead in the standings before coronavirus forced English football to shut down for 100 days.
They had hoped to wrap up the title by beating their local rivals, however those dreams were dashed by nearest challengers Manchester City beating Arsenal on Wednesday.
Instead, the Reds will aim to earn three points on Sunday and then claim the title by winning their following game, against Crystal Palace this coming Wednesday.
Everton are on a trophy drought of their own, stretching back 25 years to their FA Cup triumph in 1995, but current manager Carlo Ancelotti has been backed as the man to bring silverware back to Goodison Park by former Toffees striker Kevin Campbell.
Campbell said: “Fans of the Blues will have to be patient, but if anyone can do it, Carlo Ancelotti can – he is a perennial winner. If he can mould this squad in his image, I have no doubt he can win things.”