Liverpool have the best centre back in the world, a fact sure to be reaffirmed when Virgil van Dijk picks up the Ballon d’Or this year. The big Dutchman has transformed the Reds since his £75m arrival from Southampton in January 2018. Before Van Dijk arrived at Anfield, the Reds were a potent attacking force with a shaky, nervous and leaky defence. The ex-Southampton star has instilled a calmness into the side which has made them Champions League winners and favourites for the Premier League title. This week Joel Matip signed a contract extension with the Reds, highlighting Van Dijk as the best defender in the world.
Prior to Virgil van Dijk’s arrival, Joel Matip was a rotational figure in the Liverpool set up. The Cameroonian was in and out of the Reds lineup due to shaky performances. Joe Gomez asserted himself as Jürgen Klopp’s first choice centre back during the 2017/18 season, a leg break against Burnley thrust Joel Matip into the starting lineup and he hasn’t looked back since.
Matip was named Premier League player of the month for September, a small recognition of how far the player has come since playing alongside Van Dijk. This week, Liverpool announced that Joel Matip had signed a new 5 year contract extension with the Reds.
Without Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip wouldn’t have been able to reach his undeniable potential. Van Dijk makes players around him better. The Reds always had quality defenders in their roster, however, there was no leader in the side that could unify the side and give them direction. The fact that a player that was reported to be verging on an exit has managed to earn a 5 year contract extension is testament to the ability and influence of Virgil van Dijk.