Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has heaped praises on Virgil Van Dijk saying the Liverpool defender is as good as some to the greatest names to play in the Premier League.
However, Hughton insists the Dutchman must sustain his impressive level of performance over a longer period of time to cement a place among the legends of the English game.
Van Dijk, who was a one-time transfer target for Brighton, has helped transform Liverpool into genuine title contenders following a £75million move from Southampton last January.
The Holland international visits the Amex Stadium on Saturday with the Reds to face the Seagulls looking to increase their four-point lead over champions Manchester City.
Asked if Van Dijk deserves to be in the same conversation as the likes of John Terry, Sol Campbell and Rio Ferdinand, Hughton replied, according to BelfastTelegraph:
“Is he that level of player? Yes of course, I’ve no doubt he is when you look at the qualities he’s got.”
“The other players we’ve mentioned have done it over a long period.”
“If you’re asking me if he’s at their level as a player, then the answer is yes.”
“But if you’re talking about influence on our game and the history they have, then, of course, they’ve done it for a longer time and he hasn’t.”
“What you have with all the best centre-halves, and it’s exactly the same with Van Dijk, is they make things look easier,” added Hughton.
“If you homed in on the job he’s done, the positions he is in, the pace that he shows, the distribution that he has, he looks such a good player.”
“If you look at all the aspects of what you want in a centre-half: good in the air, comfortable with the ball at his feet, good enough pace, he has all those qualities.”