Premier League winning Manchester United defender Gary Pallister has claimed Virgil van Dijk’s influence on Liverpool is similar to the one Eric Cantona had on his club in the early 1990s.
Cantona infamously arrived from Leeds and fired United to multiple titles, beginning their legacy at the top of the English football.
Van Dijk arrived from Southampton with a giant price-tag in January 2018 and has been virtually exemplary ever since – turning Liverpool from a team with a lapse defensive reputation to one with maybe the best backline on the planet.
“He’s a bit like Cantona was for us, that final piece of the jigsaw,” Pallister told the Star.
“Liverpool were looking for a really dominant centre half to take them to the next level and they found that in Virgil van Dijk.
“I always remember a good friend of mine, Tony Mowbray, talking about Van Dijk a year or so before he went to Liverpool.
“He was saying, ‘I can’t believe one of the top four teams haven’t bought him because he looks a real exceptional player’.
“Then Liverpool paid what seemed to be over the odds for his services and he has taken to it like a duck to water.
“He is a pivotal figure, a leader that you need in your back four, the final piece of the jigsaw. He has been superb since he has been there.”
Unlike Cantona, van Dijk has a calm head on his shoulders – and as a result – his brilliance will extend well into his thirties.
The Dutchman is 28 now, but due to his composed style and the fact he’s a centre-back, could continue at this level until he’s 34 or 35 – which is very exciting for Reds who can see van Dijk as the club’s captain at some point in the future.