Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk is “perfection” and the best defender to ever grace the Premier League, says Martin Keown, who featured alongside the likes of Tony Adams, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry in his playing days.
A Netherlands international centre-half has starred at Anfield since completing a £75 million ($98m) move in the winter transfer window of 2018.
He has proved to be the final piece in a trophy-winning jigsaw for Jurgen Klopp, with Van Dijk helping Liverpool to Champions League, UEFA Super and Club World Cup triumphs.
The Reds are also sat 13 points clear at the English top-flight summit in 2019-20, with a first domestic crown in 30 years now well within reach.
Van Dijk has become a talismanic presence on Merseyside and Keown says he could easily be considered the finest defensive talent to have taken to a Premier League stage.
“It’s almost perfection to watch him play.
“He was up in Scotland [at Celtic] and nobody really wanted him. He went to Southampton but anyone could have taken it. He seemed to be a player who was perhaps slow to mature, but now he’s there and he wants to win things, and he’s very much behind all of that [for Liverpool].
“Man City jumped out of that, they didn’t want to pay the big money to sign him but, what was it, £75 million? That now looks fantastic value.
“It’s the right time and the right moment for him.
“I think with Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, Liverpool have got the best four central defenders [in the Premier League].
“And if you’re the person playing alongside Van Dijk, he just gives you so much reassurance.”
Keown knows what it takes to become one of the top centre-halves on the planet.
He tasted title successes with Arsenal at the height of Arsene Wenger’s reign, with the Gunners going unbeaten through the 2003-04 campaign to earn a billing as history-making ‘Invincibles’.
Liverpool could repeat that feat this term, but still have 18 games to take in and Van Dijk will have a leading role to play in the Reds’ quest to get over the line, having fallen agonisingly short last season.
His stock can be expected to rise with more medals, with a man who finished second behind Lionel Messi in the 2019 Ballon d’Or looking to cement a standing among the all-time greats.