'Van Dijk puts world-class strikers to sleep'

Former Liverpool defender Glen Johnson is full of praise for the Dutchman and would’ve liked to have played alongside him

Glen Johnson has hailed Virgil van Dijk for his influence in the Liverpool defence, insisting that there are “no weaknesses” in his game.

The Netherlands international has been a consistent presence at the back for Jurgen Klopp’s men since his world-record transfer from Southampton in January 2018.

His performances have helped the Reds launch a Premier League title challenge this term, while also advancing through to the latter stages of the Champions League.

Van Dijk even managed to score the decisive second goal in a 3-1 win against Bayern Munich in Germany on Wednesday, securing Liverpool’s place in the quarter-finals.

Johnson, who played at Anfield between 2009 and 2015, believes the 27-year-old centre-back will continue to be key in the Reds’ quest for European glory.

The ex-England international also praised Van Dijk for his assured style of play before admitting he would love to have played with the Dutchman.

“As a player, you don’t want to see others around you panicking and that’s one thing I’ve never seen him do,” Johnson told talkSPORT.

“When players see him as calm as he is in every situation, it rubs off and everyone puffs themselves out as well.

“There’s going to be many times in the Champions League you’ll come up against world-class strikers, and he’s the player you need to put them to sleep.

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“I would’ve liked to have him at Liverpool [when I was there].

“But, to be fair, we did have top centre-halves at the time as well. We had [Daniel] Agger and [Martin] Skrtel.

Liverpool will return to Premier League action this Sunday, with a crucial trip to Fulham on the cards which could have huge implications on the title race.

Manchester City lead the table by a point from the Reds at the moment, but they are busy taking in a FA Cup quarter-final over the weekend.

Van Dijk will be expected to retain his spot in the starting XI against the Cottagers and Johnson believes he has mastered the art of defending.

“This guy has taken it to another level,” he added. “He’s so good on the ball, so calm, big and strong – there’s not really a weakness in his game at the moment.”

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