Ex-Liverpool player Jamie Redknapp has praised Virgil Van Dijk for transforming the Liverpool team into one of the best defensive sides in the league in their pursuit of the clubs first title since 1990.
The Dutchman arrived at Anfield two years ago this month for a fee of around £75 million, amidst some scepticism that the centre-half warranted that sum.
Van Dijk has only silenced that scepticism though with his outstanding form since signing, leading Liverpool to a second placed finish last year in the Premier League and their sixth European Cup.
The 28 year-old alone won the FIFA Best Defender of the Year award last season and finished runner up to Lionel Messi in the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
The Reds seem to be on course for their first title in 30 years and Redknapp believes Van Dijk is the biggest factor in the rediscovery of Liverpool’s success.
Speaking to the Mail the former Liverpool man compared the current Reds side to the title winning team of 1987/88: “The Liverpool team of 2019-20 are on their way to clinching that title, too, and their success has been built from the back.”
“They’ve got a safe pair of hands in Alisson, two fearless full backs in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, then at the centre of this operation they’ve got him. Mr Virgil van Dijk.”
“Anyone could play alongside the Dutchman in defence and they’d look good. I’ve never known one player to transform a team the way he has. In 30 years’ time, his will be one of the first names that rolls off our tongues too.”
The Dutchman has been paired with Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip since joining Liverpool but is the one mainstay in the heart of the Reds’ defense.
Since the start of last season no team has conceded less goals than Liverpool with the Anfield outfit only allowing 36 goals in 59 games.
Liverpool clinched their 2oth win of the season in 21 games by beating Tottenham 1-0 on Saturday to make the best ever start to a Premier League season.
Speaking about the record, Van Dijk said: “It gives us all a good feeling, but you see second half there is room for improvement.”
“You need to look at the things you have to improve, that’s the mentality we have. Obviously we’re in a good situation.”
“There’s still so much work we can do to make it easier at times, but it’s a difficult place to come [Tottenham] and three points is outstanding for us.”
The Reds have now won 12 straight league games and remain unbeaten in the league.