Exclusive: Ex-Red makes big ‘70%’ Van Dijk claim ahead of pivotal battle with Lukaku

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Jose Enrique has claimed that Liverpool centre-half Virgil van Dijk is “probably the best centre-back in the league” even when only “at 70%”.

The Spaniard pointed to an important upcoming battle between the No.4 and Chelsea’s major summer signing Romelu Lukaku.

“The problem we have: with our two centre-backs – with Matip I’m not worried – Van Dijk I know what people think (even at 70% he’s still one of the best centre-backs in the world) but I can see he’s still not 100%,” the former fullback told Empire of the Kop.

“You can see in his tackles and recoveries he’s still a world-class centre-back.

“At 100% I believe he’s the only centre-back that can actually match [Romelu] Lukaku in terms of his strength and speed. But obviously, he’s not 100% yet.

“But you have to still put him straight into the team because even at 70% he’s still probably the best centre-back in the league.”

The Dutchman is said to be still recovering partly from a long-term injury that ended his season last term but has since been handed two starts in the Reds’ opening top-flight games.

READ MORE: Exclusive: Ex-Liverpool star lauds Burnley’s playing style after Jurgen Klopp’s tackling complaints

There’s no doubting the fact that Lukaku will pose a very different threat to the kind our backline had to handle whilst the Belgian international previously plied his trade for rivals Manchester United.

That being said, it would do a great disservice to the quality at Van Dijk’s disposal to overlook his status as one of the world’s leading centre-halves – if not the world’s best on his day.

We at the Empire of the Kop would certainly agree with Enrique, nonetheless, that the 30-year-old is more than enough to handle the threat of Chelsea’s latest forward signing, though we’ll be hoping to see the defender back to his full brilliant best soon.

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