Jamie Redknapp has suggested the 2019/20 Premier League title race would have been closer if Liverpool didn’t have Virgil van Dijk, who he believes is the best defender the competition has ever seen.
Van Dijk has enjoyed a stellar year once again, helping Jurgen Klopp’s side take a 25-point lead at the top of the Premier League before the coronavirus pandemic put an end to English football.
What does Van Dijk bring to Liverpool? Five things to know…
- Van Dijk is one of only seven outfield players to play every minute in the Premier League this season (2,610)…
- …during which Liverpool have lost just once while conceding 21 goals (league fewest) and 84 shots on target (also fewest).
- On top of his defensive impact, Van Dijk has scored four Premier League goals this season – the joint-most in the division.
- Since his arrival, Liverpool have improved dramatically and reached two Champions League finals.
- Van Dijk won multiple player of the season awards last year and came second in the race for the Ballon d’Or.
The Dutchman, who named the PFA Player’s Player of the Year last season, has once again been an instrumental figure at the back for Liverpool this term.
And Redknapp thinks Van Dijk is contention to win more individual honours again this year, suggesting he is among the top five performers in the Premier League this season.
Speaking about Liverpool’s 3-3 draw with Watford in August 2017, a few months before Van Dijk moved to Anfield, Redknapp told The Sky Sports Football Podcast: “I remember doing the game with Jamie Carragher and I said ‘they’ve got to sign this guy because otherwise they will not do anything.’
“The back four, nobody was picking up. They didn’t know if they were doing zonal marking, man-to-man – he was trying everything, Jurgen Klopp. And they went, right, £75m in the January transfer window, and the rest is history.
“I mean he’s the best, it just shows you. [Manchester] City, United, everyone must be kicking themselves because sometimes one player can make that difference.
“I think people talk about [Alisson] and I agree, he’s brilliant, but if you took [Van Dijk] out of this team, this would be a really tight season. He just gives them that edge because before him they were conceding so many goals.”
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‘Van Dijk is the best Premier League defender ever’
Redknapp went on to argue for Van Dijk in the debate about the Premier League’s best defenders, proposing the former Southampton centre-back has eclipsed the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.
“He’s just unbelievable and probably, maybe the best Premier League defender ever,” Redknapp said.
“There’s [Tony] Adams, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, [Nemanja] Vidic – for me, he (Van Dijk) is the best I’ve seen.
He added: “He’s the best for me, the best I’ve seen in the Premier League era.”