It takes a lot for Gary Neville to say anything nice about Liverpool, which means he must rate Virgil van Dijk incredibly highly.
Eyebrows were raised outside of Merseyside when Van Dijk joined the Reds for a club-record £75 million in January, making him the world’s most expensive defender in the process.
Neville was one of those who baulked at the price tag, which comfortably eclipsed the £54 million Man City paid to sign Kyle Walker last summer.
Van Dijk has been magnificent in a Liverpool shirt, however, almost single-handedly solving their defensive woes and contributing to eight clean sheets in 15 appearances in the Premier League so far.
His presence inspired their run to the Champions League final and his debut goal against Everton in the FA Cup third round will live long in the memory.
It appears as though Neville’s opinion has now changed on the matter, with the Sky Sports pundit describing the Dutchman as “a monster” on the Gary Neville Podcast:
“I thought Van Dijk was a good player at Southampton, but I didn’t think he was worth £75 million.
“And I didn’t think he would have the impact on Liverpool’s defence that he’s had.
“He’s a monster, and is looking a bit like Jaap Stam. It looks like he just throws people out of the way.”
Given how superior Van Dijk is to any other current Liverpool centre-back, there is a strong argument to say that he is now the Reds’ most important player.
Alisson, Naby Keita, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino may also be in the mix, but he feels the most indispensable.
Van Dijk possesses an aura that few defenders are fortunate enough to have and Jurgen Klopp‘s side look a far more formidable outfit with him around.
That £75 million fee is looking a steal in the current climate—it is difficult to think of many better centre-backs in world football.