Liverpool legend Phil Thompson thinks Virgil van Dijk has had the same effect at Anfield that Eric Cantona did at Manchester United when he joined.
Van Dijk finished runner-up to Lionel Messi in the 2019 Ballon d’Or and was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year last season after winning the Champions League in his first full season at Liverpool.
The Dutchman has helped the Reds to the Premier League title this term as Jurgen Klopp’s side won it with seven games to spare.
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And Thompson reckons Van Dijk has had a similar impact to that which Cantona had at Man Utd, with the Red Devils winning four Premier League titles in the five years the Frenchman was at the club.
Thompson told The Gary Newbon Sport Show on Punching TV: “I have recently said Van Dijk, for me, has had the Cantona effect that he had at Manchester United.
“That professionalism, will to win, that desire and then they went on to be serial winners.
“Van Dijk seems to have brought that to a lot of our team.”
On Van Dijk’s team-mate Jordan Henderson, Thompson added: “Jordan does tick those boxes. He’s not maybe got the skills or ability of a lot of other people, like Steven Gerrard, and he’s had to try and bury taking that captaincy from Gerrard which was like succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson. That’s how tough it was going to be.
“People didn’t take to him because I don’t think they could see through what Jordan actually gives and it’s a lot more than just that player out on the pitch. He is a leader which I think all teams, even some of the big six, are still searching to get.
“I think he’s been an absolute great leader. I think he will be up there for the Player of the Year but there’s so many special players in this side.
“In defence you’ve got Joe Gomez, who’s been brilliant, Trent Alexander-Arnold with so many assists, Andy Robertson, who’s been wonderful. The goalkeeper [Alisson] and Van Dijk have been absolutely so important to this football team.”
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