In the eyes of the 43-year-old, who played 236 times in the league for the Reds and scored 120 goals, the Anfield outfit needed someone to take command of their rearguard.
And Fowler says that not since Jamie Carragher retired in 2013 have they had a player with such leadership capabilities.
“He’s been what Liverpool have been crying out for for years,” he told the Premier League’s official website. “He’s a commanding centre-back, a commanding presence – he talks and organises. Liverpool haven’t had that since Carragher left.”
It is not just Van Dijk who has caught the former attacker’s eye, though; he believes that the whole defence is looking strong, with one attribute in particular giving them an edge over many rivals.
“If you’ve got the pace the Liverpool backline have got, it can get them out of all sorts of trouble. They can go forward, but they’ve got players who can cover by using their pace,” he said.
At the other end of the park, meanwhile, Sadio Mane was singled out as a player to watch.
“I think he’s been brilliant,” Fowler continued. “He’s got three goals in three games in the season so far.
“I thought he played well last year, but a lot of it went under the radar because of the form of Mo Salah. Now he’s not scoring as many, albeit three games into the season, he’s getting more plaudits now. I think he’ll have a great season this year.”
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Leicester, Liverpool had won all three of their Premier League matches, scoring seven times without conceding a single goal in reply.