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Pundit singles out Liverpool ace for praise, lauds impact and compares him to LFC legend

BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has lauded Virgil van Dijk for the impact that he continues to make for Liverpool after another impressive display at the weekend.

Since the Dutchman arrived at Anfield in January, the Reds have undoubtedly improved defensively with his commanding presence solidifying their backline.

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In turn, the improvement at that end of the pitch coupled with their attacking threat posed by the trident of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, it appears as though the Merseyside giants have found a real balance to the side.

Add to the mix the arrival of key signings such as Naby Keita, Fabinho and Alisson this summer, and Jurgen Klopp will hope that he has the strength and depth to compete for major trophies.

Liverpool began the new season with a comprehensive 4-0 win over West Ham United at Anfield on Sunday, and it was Van Dijk who was singled out for praise by Crooks.

“Van Dijk was telling his fellow defenders, in no uncertain terms, that nothing short of a clean sheet would do,” he wrote in his BBC column.

“That’s the difference between Liverpool prior to Van Dijk’s arrival and the team that currently exists. Moreover there’s something of the Alan Hansen about the way he conducts himself on a football pitch. Apart from the obvious stature, the Dutchman always looks composed, elegant and plays with his head not just his heart.”

There’s no doubt that Liverpool have improved defensively since Van Dijk arrived, but clearly Crooks rates his influence highly enough to even compare him to a Liverpool legend in Hansen.

Time will tell if he can replicate the success that the Scotsman enjoyed at Liverpool, which included eight league titles and three European cups, but the focus for now will remain on the Reds improving game by game this season with a defensive stalwart in Van Dijk leading from the back.

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