When Liverpool courted Virgil Van Dijk in 2017/18 it was seen as persistent and over the top. Now, it is seen as the best bit of business that the club has done in years! With the front three usually grabbing the headlines Van Dijk can sometimes go under the radar. However, with another powerful display against Bayern Munich is he the best central defender in the world at the moment?
Since the inception of the Ballon D'or there have only been three previous defensive winners. Franz Beckenbauer, Matthias Sammer and Fabio Cannavaro have all picked up the award whilst playing in the heart of the defence. There is an argument to suggest that the Liverpool centre half could pick up the award sometime soon especially with the dominance of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi coming to an end.
Some might disagree with this statement but the impact he has had on the club has been extraordinary. Since he arrived he has guided Liverpool to a Champions League final and made them genuine title challengers this season in the Premier League. He has also shored up the defence to be one of the most solid defensive lines in the league.
He has even put Holland back on the map. Despite missing out on the World Cup in Russia, he has since brought his Liverpool form to the international stage as the Dutch qualified for the finals of the Nations League beating both France and Germany to do so; he even scored twice in the four games.
The former Southampton man is everything you want in a defender as he is quick, strong, comfortable on the ball and he is positionally astute. Manager Jurgen Klopp literally cannot drop him as he is the glue that keeps the back line together. He has made 37 appearances for his club this season and was only dropped for the EFL Cup and F.A Cup which unsurprisingly they lost both games.
The influence of the man is what makes him such a good defender and all round footballer. He does not let his head drop when things are going tough and he is always wanting find that extra yard to win. That is exactly what Liverpool need if they are going to succeed this season. He will battle for every header (4.7 average headers won each game), he will pass out from the back to start an attack (89.6% pass success rate) and he will put his body on the line (5.4 clearances per game).
I cannot think of a player at the heart of the defence that comes close to Van Dijk at the moment; Sergio Ramos could be the only argument. This man is the prime years of his career and if Liverpool do not win anything this year then they will have plenty of clubs looking at the former Celtic man to help solidify their defence because he is totally immense.