Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has hailed Virgil van Dijk’s influence on the club’s rise to the stardom over the past couple of years.
Van Dijk has almost single-handedly turned Liverpool’s fragile backline into an unpenetrable fortress immediately after his £75million arrival from Southampton.
Widely-considered among the top-three centre-backs on the planet, the Netherlands captain has not missed out on a single Premier League for the past two seasons.
It is fair to say that Van Dijk’s signing has turned Liverpool’s fortunes around.
With the Dutchman on their roster, the Reds have climbed to the top of the Premier League for the first time in 30 years. They also wrapped up the Champions League crown last year, their first since 2005.
Jurgen Klopp’s assistant Pep Lijnders has now hailed Van Dijk’s contribution to Liverpool’s new-found status of the European supreme force.
“Virgil’s influence has been massive on the team. Firstly because of his personality,” he told Daily Mirror.
“Secondly, his presence in the dressing room. He is such a calm figure. He is only dealing with ‘clean sheets’. He is just crazy about keeping clean sheets.
“And what is great about him is that the team can press really high up on the pitch when you have a central defender like Virgil at the back.
“Because of him, our opponents always face a tough job. First, they have to try and get past our three strikers, who run and fight for every ball.
“They have been trained to handle five or six opponents at the same time.
“When the opposition has dealt with our three strikers, they are facing a block of seven midfielders, and then, finally, they are facing Virgil van Dijk.
“And with those giant leaps of his, he solves many football problems.”
Van Dijk led Liverpool to a memorable Premier League title this term that saw the Merseyside giants win 99 points and finish the season 18 clear of closest chasers Manchester City.