Pundit admits admiration for ‘best defender on the planet’ Virgil van Dijk and praises Jurgen Klopp for helping the Dutchman develop

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BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has named Virgil van Dijk as the ‘best defender on the planet’ and named the Dutchman in his Premier League Team of the Year.

The 30-year-old has been back to his superb best for Jurgen Klopp’s side this season after suffering that horrific knee injury back in 2020, but Crooks was keen to highlight that the German boss has helped the former Southampton man get to the level he’s at today.

“He looks immaculate on the pitch and plays in the same manner. He is without doubt the best defender on the planet – and without him, Liverpool wouldn’t have had anywhere near the success they have had,” Crooks told BBC Sport (via Liverpool Echo).

“But that is part of the genius of Jurgen Klopp. Having the ability to spot what your team need, and when they need it, is a key element of management. It also has to be said that Van Dijk wasn’t world class when he arrived at Anfield but under the careful stewardship of Klopp and his coaching staff, he has turned into something very special.

“The mere fact they’ve held on to him for so long is also a testament to an adoring Anfield crowd who appreciate the jewel in the crown.”

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We kept 21 clean sheets in the league this season, the joint most with Manchester City, and much of our defensive solidity is owed to our No. 4

Whilst he continues to recover from a slight knock sustained in the FA Cup final win over Chelsea, he had to settle for a spot on the bench for yesterday’s win over Wolves, and his presence was missed.

Bruno Lage’s side looked dangerous on the counter attack yesterday and Pedro Neto’s opening goal came as a result of a poor defensive error by Ibrahima Konate.

The 22-year-old has been impressive this season, but he’s been partnered by van Dijk on most occasions.

Konate and Joel Matip are certainly quality players in their own right, but when they’re not alongside the Netherlands captain, they certainly don’t look as comfortable.

Van Dijk brings calmness to the side and we certainly hope he’s back fit for our Champions League final clash with Real Madrid on Saturday.

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