LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I love this player” – Van Dijk given highest honour by one of football’s all-time great defenders

All-time defensive great Franz Beckenbauer has heaped praise on Virgil van Dijk, explaining that he “doesn’t see any weaknesses” in the Liverpool centre-back.

Van Dijk has rightly merited consideration among the best players in world football, and it can certainly be argued that the Dutchman is proving himself one of the greatest defenders in history.

That accolade is arguably reserved for Beckenbauer, who made the sweeper role his own between the 1960s and 1980s, starring for Bayern Munich and West Germany, winning five Bundesliga titles, three European Cups and a World Cup.

He also led West Germany to the World Cup as manager in 1990, as well as winning the league with Bayern and Marseille; as a player, he also won the Ballon d’Or on two occasions.

Beckenbauer’s opinion, therefore, carries greater weight than many other ex-pros, and the 75-year-old recently told France Football that he “loves” Van Dijk and doesn’t believe the No. 4 has “any weaknesses.”

“The role of libero as I held it no longer exists nowadays,” he said, as translated by Sport Witness.

“But with his way and style of playing football, Virgil van Dijk really impresses me.

“I started to notice him at Liverpool and in the Dutch national team. He has this power and ability in him that are quite impressive.

“He shows it on all levels. I don’t see any weaknesses in him.

“At first glance, because of his stature, you might think he lacks speed and agility, but that’s not the case at all.

“He is very manoeuvrable and can anticipate situations very well. I love this player.”

26.03.2011, Allianz Arena, Muenchen, GER, 1.FBL, FC Bayern Muenchen vs Borussia Dortmund, im Bild  Franz Beckenbauer (Bayern) mit Jürgen (Juergen) Klopp (Trainer BVB) , EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/  Straubmeier       ****** out of GER / SWE / CRO  / BEL ******

Beckenbauer is right to acknowledge Van Dijk as a complete defender, and while it is rare to say this of any player, the 29-year-old appears to have no flaws to his game.

That Liverpool have been able to forge on without him this season is remarkable, with Van Dijk a huge loss to any side due to his quality and leadership.

The combination of physicality, speed, perception and technical ability make him one of the very best, and Beckenbauer’s assessment is a real honour for a player the Reds paid £75 million to bring to Anfield in 2018.

It is nearing the three-year anniversary of Liverpool’s deal with Southampton, struck two days after Christmas in 2017, and Van Dijk has proved worth every penny spent.

One of football’s all-time greats would seemingly agree.