The meteoric rise of Virgil van Dijk has come as no surprise to Georginio Wijnaldum, with a fellow Dutchman always expecting a countryman to be “a really good signing” for Liverpool.
The Reds moved to land the Netherlands international during the January transfer window of 2018.
A record-breaking £75 million ($100m) deal was required to secure his services, with his stock having soared during a productive Premier League spell at Southampton.
Van Dijk had previously impressed in British football at Celtic, but it took several seasons for his full value to be recognised by the elite.
Wijnaldum never had any doubt that the 27-year-old would reach the top, telling Liverpool’s official website of the man now widely considered to be the finest centre-half on the planet: “I already saw it [coming].
“I had thought about it because I play with him for the national team, I had seen him make steps and progress a lot during the years.
“He has had a big impact since he came in and has helped the team a lot, so I think he was a really good signing for us.
“He is a big character, a person everyone loves. Everyone loves him in the dressing room, at Melwood and the fans love him. We’ve made a step forward with Virgil in the team.”
Van Dijk’s arrival at Anfield is considered to have contributed significantly to Liverpool’s surge into Premier League title contention.
He has helped to plug defensive leaks on Merseyside, but has also proved to be a useful asset in the penalty area.
Three goals have been recorded in his last four appearances, with the most recent of those helping Jurgen Klopp’s side past Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Wijnaldum added: “It is really important because we can score in different situations; we can score from set-pieces, we can score from good football, we can score from counter-attacks, we have all different kinds of qualities that can help us to score goals.
“It gives more confidence to the team because it gives us more opportunities to score. In the last few games, we’ve scored quite a lot with the set-pieces – and Virgil is a happy man because he’s scored a few!
“It is good if you have those qualities and you’re aware of them. We’re aware of our qualities we have, so we try to use them in every game.
“It is really important and it helps the team, but it doesn’t matter who scores or who plays good, it is just good if someone scores. Most of the time it is the front three, but now also Virgil is scoring, Trent [Alexander-Arnold] can score and Robbo [Andy Robertson] is getting closer.
“It’s always good if more players can score other than the front three to help the team.”
Liverpool will be looking for more goals from any source on Sunday when they travel to Fulham seeking to move back to the top of the Premier League table.