A man who once dominated the heart of the Reds’ back four has paid homage to a Dutch superstar who taken a skill set in that position to new heights
Virgil van Dijk “has no weakness” and has become “the best centre-back in the world”, says former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia.
The Reds acquired a Netherlands international for £75 million ($97m) during the winter transfer window of 2018.
Eyebrows were raised at a record-breaking fee, with questions asked of whether Van Dijk was the final piece in the jigsaw at Anfield.
He has also finished as runner-up in the 2019 Ballon d’Or vote and guided Liverpool towards a first Premier League title.
His value to the cause on Merseyside is now undisputed, with a standing among the global elite safely secured.
Ex-Liverpool star Hyypia, who spent 10 years with the club between 1999 and 2009, forms part of Van Dijk’s fan base, telling beIN Sports: “I think Virgil is the best centre-back in the world. He has no weakness.
“The fact when he came, Liverpool were lacking in leadership a little bit. It was asking too much on James Milner and Jordan Henderson.
“When Van Dijk came it took the weight off those two and there was another leader on the field.
“He gives confidence to everyone, he gets everyone to play better around him.”
Van Dijk starred for Liverpool once again in his most recent outing, as he found the target and kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over arch-rivals Manchester United.
Roberto Firmino thought he had broken his Anfield goal duck for the season in that contest, only to see a spectacular strike ruled out by VAR.
While the Brazilian has been short of end product on home soil in 2019-20, he remains a vital part of the Reds cause and a player that has exceeded all expectations.
The former Finland international said of Firmino: “When he was at Hoffenheim and I heard he was going to Liverpool, I wasn’t sure if he was going to make it.
“But now he has developed. He’s one of the most important players. I was surprised. I wasn’t sure about him, but now he is a different player.”