Mark Lawrenson and Stephen Warnock have backed the commanding Dutch defender to be selected as the cream of the Premier League crop for 2018-19
Virgil van Dijk is performing at a level similar to that enjoyed when “John Terry and Tony Adams were at their peak”, says Mark Lawrenson, with the Liverpool defender being backed to land the PFA Player of the Year award.
A Dutch defender at Anfield has made a notable impact since moving to Merseyside as part of a record-breaking £75 million ($97m) deal in January 2018.
The Premier League title challenge being pieced together by Jurgen Klopp is considered to have been made possible by the arrival of commanding defensive options such as Van Dijk and Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson.
Lawrenson believes that a Netherlands international is now the pick of those turning out in the English top-flight, with a talented 27-year-old deserving of recognition from his peers.
The former Reds defender told BBC Sport of his pick for the PFA prize: “We know about Van Dijk’s ability and his leadership but the most impressive thing is that he has played with a succession of different centre-back partners this season: Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and even Fabinho.
“Has it affected the team? No, because it is all about him.
“Honestly, he is so good, he is at that moment where John Terry and Tony Adams were at their peak – where you can play anybody with them and it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever.”
Lawrenson is not the only ex-Liverpool defender to be tipping Van Dijk for a major individual award.
He is expected to compete with Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling for top spot in the vote, with Stephen Warnock another of those expecting the silverware to head for Anfield.
The former Reds full-back said of his choices: “For Van Dijk to have a season where no-one has dribbled past him is just unbelievable.
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“I know that on its own does not make you the best player in the Premier League but it shows how good a defender he is. It is an incredible statistic.
“As good as Sterling has been, I would actually have Bernardo Silva and [Sergio] Aguero in front of him in terms of their importance for City.
“I like quite a few Wolves players too but Raul Jimenez has been unreal. In the first half of the season he was getting in positions but not finishing the chances, but that all changed after Christmas.”