Johnson: Van Dijk can put world-class strikers to sleep

MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 13: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool (4) celerbates as he scores his team's second goal with Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Liverpool at Allianz Arena on March 13, 2019 in Munich, Bavaria. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Former Liverpool star Glen Johnson believes Virgil van Dijk has “no weaknesses” and can put any world-class striker to sleep.

The Dutch centre-back has impressed greatly at Liverpool ever since completing his world-record £75m transfer for a defender from Southampton in January 2018.

Van Dijk’s presence in the Liverpool backline has played a big role in their challenge for a first league title since 1990 as they stand just a point adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester City after 30 matches.

The 27-year-old was also on target on Wednesday night as Liverpool secured a 3-1 second-leg win at Bayern Munich to book a spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Now Johnson has joined Van Dijk’s growing list of admirers and stated his belief that the Dutchman will be key for Liverpool in their hunt for European glory.

“As a player, you don’t want to see others around you panicking and that’s one thing I’ve never seen him do,” Johnson told talkSPORT.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: England manager Gareth Southgate attends a press conference to announce the England squad for the UEFA Nations League matches at Wembley Stadium on May 16, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Southgate is worried about England’s future

The national team manager doesn't like that the number of English players starting in Premier League games is going down.

“When players see him as calm as he is in every situation, it rubs off and everyone puffs themselves out as well.

“There’s going to be many times in the Champions League you’ll come up against world-class strikers, and he’s the player you need to put them to sleep.

“I would’ve liked to have him at Liverpool [when I was there].

“But, to be fair, we did have top centre-halves at the time as well. We had [Daniel] Agger and [Martin] Skrtel.

Johnson, who made 200 appearances in a six-year spell at Anfield, also believes that Van Dijk has taken defending to a whole other level.

He added: “This guy has taken it to another level. He’s so good on the ball, so calm, big and strong – there’s not really a weakness in his game at the moment.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield on February 27, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 27: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield on February 27, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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