Gary Gillespie has joined Virgil van Dijk’s growing list of admirers after labelling the Liverpool star as “the best defender I’ve seen”.
Van Dijk has developed into one of the world’s finest centre-backs since completing a record-breaking £75m transfer from Southampton in January 2018.
The Netherlands captain played a critical role in the Reds’ turnaround into becoming Premier League title challengers last season. He even beat Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling to the PFA Player of the Year.
But Van Dijk’s biggest contribution came in Europe, where he helped end a seven-year wait for silverware by winning the Champions League in convincing fashion.
Nowadays, the 28-year-old is being tipped as one of the favourites to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or award.
Although this comes as no surprise whatsoever to a former defender in Gillespie, who won three English first division titles and European cup at Anfield.
“Normally it is the players that catch the eye, the players that score the goals, that dribble and beat people, that create opportunities,” he told the club’s website on Van Dijk.
“And I think it speaks volumes that he’s even being talked about as winning the Ballon d’Or, the fact he’s a centre-back.
“For me, he’s the best [defender] I’ve seen, absolutely. He’s right up there, outstanding in every department [and] in one-on-one situations, and that’s so key these days, with the way that modern teams play.
“Sometimes you are left in one-on-one situations and you just need to look at his stats last season: I think they were that not one player dribbled past him. I just think that’s phenomenal.”
Van Dijk, who recently spoke on his Ballon d’Or prospects, will likely be in action for Jurgen Klopp’s side on Sunday in a pre-season friendly against Napoli in Edinburgh, Scotland.