Italian legend Franco Baresi named Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt when asked to name a couple defenders that have caught his eye.
He said: “It is difficult to make comparisons. I like Van Dijk and De Ligt. They are both very strong and very athletic.
“Liverpool have grown hugely as a team recently and a lot of that is thanks to Van Dijk.”
The Dutch centre back joined the Reds for a world record fee of £75million and has been the standout defender at the club this season. His defensive exploits have almost singlehandedly brought Liverpool to the cusp of a first Premier League title.
It’s nice to see a defender getting the credit for a change, with van Dijk a shoo-in for a PFA Player of the Year award. He has not been alone, however, combining with Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip to establish a firm defence in front of Alisson.
The Brazilian goalkeeper has done wonderfully in his first full season in the Premier League. He hasn’t been perfect, of course, but he is levels above Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet and the 26-year-old’s composed presence in goals has seen Liverpool go from scraping Champions League qualification to top of the tree.
I believe that for Liverpool’s backline to be perfected, Jurgen Klopp needs to sign the other defender Baresi mentioned. Matthijs de Ligt has over 10 years of football left at the top level and playing alongside van Dijk would be a brilliant way to develop.