James Milner has named current Liverpool centre-half Virgil van Dijk among his best four defensive teammates.
Speaking at a virtual media session hosted by Stadium Astro in Malaysia, Milner was asked about the brilliant Dutchman and where he ranked among the greats.
“He’s right up there. I’ve been very fortunate to have played with some amazing centre-halves. You look at Rio [Ferdinand], Jonathan Woodgate, Vinny Kompany, and Virg is right in there with all those guys.
“He reads the game so well, he’s quick, he’s strong, he’s good on the ball, he’s a good communicator and he’s deadly in the air.
“And his positioning is so good. You can see that after the game when you look at how far players have run. He’s run miles less than everyone else, even the other centre-halves, and you think ‘how is that possible?’ but it’s because he reads the game so well.
“He’s an incredible player for us, and a big part of what we do. The spine in the team is massive and he is obviously a rock in that defence.”
Milner recalled one moment against Southampton when Van Dijk showed his class, saying: “The ball has come over his shoulder, he’s got a forward sprinting to close him down, hunting him down into the corner and he’s just knocked it over his shoulder, first-time, into my path.
“It was one of those moments in a game where I nearly stopped an applauded before I controlled the ball myself! It was ridiculous defending, but that’s the sort of thing he does.”