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Why Premier League title means so much for reputation of Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool are officially Premier League champions and while the title will mean the world to every player, it carries something else for the likes of Virgil van Dijk.

In the end, it came down to Manchester City failing to beat Chelsea. In truth, the title race finished in December. Liverpool have been utterly dominant all season and this is arguably the most decisive title race we’ve ever seen.

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The Liverpool players have set new standards not just for themselves, but for English football. And for the club, each player has ensured legendary status between this and last season’s Champions League win.

But for some, this title win confirms a greater status and reputation throughout English and European football. You can see it best in Van Dijk.

Van Dijk has been quite incredible over the last two and a half years. He’s revolutionised Liverpool’s defence and established himself as the world’s best defender.

But he always had a major black mark when it came to an all-time debate. Could you really call him the greatest Premier League defender ever – or have him in the argument – if he’d never won it?

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It’s an easy argument to make, even if it is a bit silly. No Premier League defender – arguably in all of English football – has achieved greater individual success.

Van Dijk won UEFA’s Footballer of the Year award and came second in the Ballon d’Or. That’s before you study his impact, too, as there hasn’t been many greater from individual players.

Liverpool went from an inconsistent team to reigning English, European and World champions within two and a half years of his signing.

He’s undoubtedly one of the game’s greats right now. But without that Premier League title, he’d always face a battle in comparisons to others.

With this title, though, Van Dijk removes that argument. He is, in our minds, the best Premier League defender ever and any more titles simply create a larger distance between him and the rest.

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Not that the Dutchman is the only one to receive a reputation boost from this. Mohamed Salah, for one, puts himself up there as a truly great Premier League forward. Jordan Henderson becomes one of the great English captains, too.

It may just be one title but what it means for these players is immeasurable. They’re undeniably among the greats now.

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