Van Dijk has risen to become arguably the best centre-back in the world since his then-record move from Southampton to Anfield for a fee of £75m. The Dutchman has transformed the landscape of a relatively substandard Liverpool defence to help them win the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League in successive years.
While many have claimed that Van Dijk is already one of the best-ever centre-halves to ply their trade in the Premier League, Beckenbauer - regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time - has added to these claims saying that Van Dijk is one of the best around.
Beckenbauer explains why he 'loves' Liverpool superstar Van Dijk
Speaking on what exactly makes Van Dijk such a monumental player and what impressed him about the Dutchman, Beckenbauer explained [h/t: SportWitness];
"The role of libero as I held it no longer exists nowadays. But with his way and style of playing football, Virgil van Dijk really impresses me. He shows it on all levels. I don’t see any weaknesses in him."
Germany's World Cup-winning hero continued,
"At first glance, because of his stature, you might think he lacks speed and agility, but that’s not the case at all. He is very manoeuvrable and can anticipate situations very well. I love this player."
Despite receiving widespread criticism for spending what was the largest ever fee for a defender in football history on the Southampton man, Van Dijk's immediate impact on Liverpool was there for all to see. The Dutchman's commanding presence at the back and ability to bring the ball out changed the way Liverpool played.
The Dutchman's defensive nous is arguably second to none, as he his defensive awareness and reading of the game allows him to be in the right place at the right time, ensuring that he hardly ever has to break stride. Very few players have gotten the better of the Liverpool man aerially either, making Van Dijk effectively a near-perfect centre-half.
He was a pivotal figure in helping Liverpool end their 30-year wait for a maiden Premier League title in 2019/20, a campaign during which he didn't miss a single minute for the Reds.
The 29-year-old is currently recovering from a long-term injury he picked up after an ill-advised challenge on him from Everton's Jordan Pickford.
Published 21 Dec 2020, 22:22 IST