Jurgen Klopp makes Rio Ferdinand point about “best in the world” Virgil van Dijk

Jurgen Klopp has reiterated that Virgil van Dijk is the “best defender in the world,” pointing out that players like Rio Ferdinand went through similar dips.

Van Dijk, by his own admission, was far from his best last season, which led to fears that the Liverpool defender had lost a step after his ACL injury.

But with the captain’s armband, he has resumed normal duties this time out as the all-dominant centre-back who transformed the Reds’ fortunes under Klopp.

He scored his first goal of the campaign in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United, and was widely considered to be Man of the Match at Bramall Lane.

Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s follow-up trip to Crystal Palace, Klopp was asked how important Van Dijk’s consistency has been.

“It always was, always will be. Virg is the best defender in the world,” he replied.

“Did he have lesser good spells? Yes. If you show me one who never had, I would be really happy to meet him, to be honest, probably that’s how we all are.

“When we look back in the past, the Rio Ferdinands of the planet were not good all the time, or Jaap Stam or Sami Hyypia whatever.

“Always perfect – nobody was and nobody will be.

“So yes, Virg in that shape is, for us, super, super, super, super important.”

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 6, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Sheffield United FC and Liverpool FC at Bramall Lane. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With his goal in midweek, Van Dijk brought his tally in the Premier League up to 21, overtaking Sol Campbell (20) in the all-time list.

Only five players have scored more Premier League goals exclusively from centre-back, those being Hyypia, Matt Elliott, Laurent Koscielny (all 22), Gary Cahill (28) and John Terry (41).

Van Dijk has already captained Liverpool in an official capacity on 57 occasions, with Steven Gerrard holding the club record for the most games as captain (471).