Scott Brown has brilliantly explained Virgil van Dijk’s genius north of the border – but says at first, the Dutchman had to get in the gym to start fulfilling his potential!
Liverpool’s no.4 is now regarded as the best centre-back on the planet, but when we signed him as a 26-year-old, he had less than 15 caps for his country and had been playing at Southampton – so it’s fair he’s been a late bloomer in terms of developing into a truly elite defender.
Brown has explained that in terms of talent, van Dijk is the best player he’s ever played with, but that Neil Lennon helped him plenty in realising it.
“Virgil. Absolute Rolls Royce. He came and you knew he had quality but he just at the time didn’t look after himself as well as he probably should have done,” Brown told BBC Sportsound.
“Neil had him in the gym, double sessions, and he lost about half a stone or three-quarters of a stone.
“You just saw him slowly producing these quality results, pulling everyone together.
“He pretty much held that back four together through thick and thin and you appreciate what he’s doing now because you see he’s the best defender in the world now.
“He just goes up gears and I don’t think anyone beat him in a one-on-one in the English Premier League for about seventy-eighty games.
“He was an absolute Rolls Royce. You could see he was going to go through another couple of levels as well.
“There are a lot of fast players in this league and he was just cruising past them. That’s a big 6ft 4in centre-half so you can imagine what he’s like now and how well he’s doing.”
Van Dijk is approaching his 29th birthday, but we can see him marshalling Liverpool’s defence for the next five years at least.
He’s never injured and plays the game in such a composed and elegant manner that there’s no reason why he can’t be one of the world’s best well into his mid-30s.
With Joe Gomez alongside him, as well as Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson either side – the pace of Liverpool’s backline will never be a problem.
And if all goes to plan van Dijk will confirm his already legendary status with a plethora of trophies before he hangs up his boots.