Jamie Carragher waxed lyrical about Ruben Dias’ performance after Manchester City overcame Paris Saint-Germain to reach their first Champions League final and said the centre-back was currently the ‘best by a long way in the Premier League’. Riyad Mahrez netted in both halves to secure City a comprehensive 4-1 aggregate victory over their visitors and Pep Guardiola’s defence put in a heroic shift at the Etihad, throwing their bodies on the line to thwart an increasingly exasperated PSG attack. Angel di Maria was given his marching orders for a petulant stamp on City captain Fernandinho in the 69th minute and the red card kick-started a mini-implosion from the Ligue 1 champions as a series of mindless fouls and scuffles followed. Central defender Dias, who has been a revelation since arriving from Benfica for a fee of around £62million last summer, deservedly came away with the man of the match award for his inspired showing at the back alongside John Stones.
The Portugal international appeared an immovable object throughout against the likes of Neymar, Di Maria and Mauro Icardi and Carragher talked up the comparisons to Virgil van Dijk as he analysed his display for CBS Sports. The former Liverpool and England centre-half even said he was ‘more impressed’ with Dias given he has not been blessed with the same ‘physical attributes’ of a player like Van Dijk. ‘I love him. I think he’s been the best player in the Premier League this season, I really do believe that. I think he’s had a huge effect on Manchester City,’ Carragher said. ‘Even when he speaks and you watch him play you can’t believe he’s 23. When you are a centre-back and a great centre-back – and he is a great centre-back – the great ones just don’t play their own game, they almost play other people’s games and they’re always talking to people, moving people about and they’re in charge of a back-four.
He added: ‘It helps having Kevin De Bruyne in the team. It helps having Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, all four at the back, the goalkeeper. ‘It helps having Sterling and Gabriel Jesus on the bench to come in and many others that didn’t even come in. ‘That’s our most powerful strength, the quality we have playing and the quality we have on the bench.’