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Van Dijk billed as the 'ultimate centre-back' by Liverpool legend who once filled that role

14:01 GMT 16/02/2019
Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2018-19
Former Reds defender Sami Hyypia considers a man acquired by Jurgen Klopp for a record-setting £75m to be one of the very best in the business

Virgil van Dijk is the “ultimate centre-back”, says Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia, with the Reds having got an immediate return on their record-breaking £75 million ($97m) investment.

Jurgen Klopp moved to make the Netherlands international the most expensive defender in world football during the January transfer window of 2018.

He was acquired to plug the gaps in a leaky back four which had been stunting progress at Anfield.

Van Dijk slotted seamlessly into the fold and is considered to have contributed significantly to the progress made on Merseyside over the last 12 months.

Liverpool are now in Premier League title contention and pursuing further progress in the Champions League, with defensive strength having been found.

Brazil international goalkeeper Alisson has also made an important impact since arriving in England, but Hyypia believes it is a fellow centre-half who is very much the main man.

The ex-Reds star told PA Sport: “I saw it right away when he came that he would be a very important part of the team.

“Straightaway he was organising the defence, he was the leader at the back, and as time has gone on he is even more important.

“He gives confidence to the players and makes many other players play better.

“It is very difficult to find a weakness. He is an ultimate centre-back and it would be a pleasure to play alongside him he is so good.

“He is so calm on the ball, he never seems in a hurry and he trusts his skills on the ball.

“It was the right decision [to sign him] because he is so important for the team, it doesn’t matter how much he cost.”

Van Dijk, who has already passed the 50-appearance mark for Liverpool, will play no part in the Reds’ next outing.

He is set to serve a European ban when Klopp’s side play host to Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the first leg of a heavyweight Champions League last-16 encounter.

The Dutchman will be available, though, for a crunch clash with Manchester United and further Premier League outings against Watford, Everton and Burnley before a return date with Bayern is taken in.