Virgil van Dijk is held in high regard by Ian Rush, but a Liverpool legend claims a star of the modern era cannot be placed in the same bracket as “world-beater” Alan Hansen.
The Reds splashed out £75 million ($94m) during the January transfer window of 2018 to make a Netherlands international the most expensive defender on the planet.
That show of faith has been richly rewarded, with Van Dijk credited with helping to turn Jurgen Klopp’s side into serious Premier League title contenders.
Rush agrees with that assessment of the 27-year-old, but does not believe that the Dutchman is yet on a par with iconic figures that went before him at Anfield.
Asked about Jamie Carragher’s assessment that Van Dijk “could be remembered like Hansen”, Reds icon Rush told talkSPORT: “Well, he’s still got a long way to go, for me.
“If Alan Hansen would be playing football today, he’d be an absolute world-beater.
“Even in our day, he never tackled anyone, but on the ball he was absolutely unbelievable. He was like a midfielder.
“I think Van Dijk and Joe Gomez could be absolutely incredible.
“But whoever plays with Van Dijk plays well – Lovren, Matip – Van Dijk organises the defence and helps them all round. That’s how good he has been.”
Van Dijk has made 43 appearances for Liverpool to date and currently has them sat top of the Premier League table.
He also helped them to reach the Champions League final last season, and will be taking aim at the last 16 of that competition in his next outing against Napoli on Tuesday.
While he is making positive progress on Merseyside, Rush is right to suggest that he has “a long way to go” before standing alongside Hansen.
The legendary Scot figured 620 times for Liverpool over the course of a 13-year spell and saw the Reds to eight top-flight titles, two FA Cup wins, four League Cup successes and three European Cup crowns.