Liverpool youngster Ki-Jana Hoever has claimed his team-mate Virgil van Dijk is best defender in world football.
The former Southampton man is enjoying a stellar season for the Reds and in the eyes of many is now one of the world’s top centre-backs.
For Hoever, who trains everyday with him everyday, he is no doubt as to Van Dijk’s quality.
“Virgil is the best defender in the world – and I can say that with 100 percent certainty,” the 17-year-old told the Mirror.
“He is so good that the great thing about Liverpool now is that it is not just the strikers and attackers in our team who get all the praise.
“They used to always get the credit, but something has changed. People now understand and see the importance of great defending.
Hoever is hoping he can one day operate at the same level as Van Dijk, and said the Netherlands captain has been passing on some expert tips in training.
“It isn't just watching him play against the best forwards in the world that makes me admire him,” said Hoever.
“When I play alongside him in training I see all the details, his hunger for perfection, the way he coaches me, his positioning and his little comments towards me
“He seems to be right all the time. I wonder, at those moments, why I did not see that or why I was not in that position before. That, for me, is pure class.
Hoever has been capped by the Netherlands at youth level and has admitted he would like to one line up alongside his Liverpool colleague on the international stage.
“I hope that in a couple of years I can play next to van Dijk in defence,” he said. “You can’t wish for a better mentor and tutor as a professional player.
“There is a little detail in Virgil’s game – that I call the shoulder. He is always looking over his shoulder.
“He is always aware what is going on around him. He has his own game to concentrate on, but he is paying attention to everyone else too.”
Hoever made his Liverpool debut earlier debut earlier this season in the Merseysider’s FA Cup loss to Wolves in January, but has played almost exclusively for the club’s youth teams this season.