Ex-Liverpool defender Gary Gillespie applauds the talent of Virgil van Dijk. Where does he rank among the best of the Premier League era, though?

Virgil van Dijk has earned plenty of plaudits since his move from Southampton a year ago. The Dutchman has gone on to establish himself as arguably the best defender around as Liverpool push for the title.

Liverpool’s defensive record is an enormous part of that push. The Reds have only conceded 13 goals this season, with only six coming at Anfield.

Van Dijk is the leader of that defence, as his December Player of the Month award recognises.

Gary Gillespie [back row, third from left] celebrates with teammates after winning the 1986 First Division title. (Photo by David Cannon/Allsport/Getty Images)

And now Gary Gillespie, who won three First Division titles and the European Cup as a defender for Liverpool, has given his thoughts on Van Dijk.

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Gillespie ranks Van Dijk

“I’ve been asked a lot in recent weeks: Just where does Van Dijk stand, in relation to the likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Jaap Stam even, who are up there as the greatest centre-backs in Premier League history,” the Mirror quotes Gillespie as saying.

“Honestly, ability-wise and technique-wise I would put him top. He’s got absolutely everything “

Now, that’s a bold statement and one that rival fans and pundits may feel is a step too far. The fact he’s in the debate, however, is a testament to his ability.

Virgil van Dijk won the Player of the Month award for December. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

But there is a big difference between Van Dijk and the names mentioned, as Gillespie points out.

“To become a living legend you have to be successful and win trophies and medals on regular basis, not just a one-off,” he said. “Terry and Ferdinand, they had immense quality, but they also had longevity.

“Virgil, he’s probably ahead technically, but he needs to show it with trophies.”

That is the big difference, no matter how highly you rate Van Dijk. It’s a team game and playing a part in delivering those trophies is how you establish yourself as a great.

Rio Ferdinand & John Terry are regarded as two of the best of the Premier League era. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Van Dijk came very close to doing so just four months into his Liverpool career. While they may have fallen at the final hurdle last year, though, another chance has presented itself.

Deliver the title and Van Dijk’s standing will increase tenfold. Both for Liverpool and the Premier League.

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