Klopp hails Liverpool captain Van Dijk as the ‘best in the world’

Jurgen Klopp has hailed Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk as ‘the best defender in the world’ and has opened up on the development of his side this season.

Liverpool have made a positive start to the new campaign and sit second in the Premier League table, ahead of this weekend’s meeting with Crystal Palace. The Reds can move above leaders Arsenal, who play Aston Villa later in the day, with a win at Selhurst Park on Saturday lunchtime.

Liverpool’s encouraging form comes despite big changes during the summer, with cornerstones of the Klopp era in Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Roberto Firmino having moved on.

Asked for his view on the evolution of his team, Klopp said he is ‘happy’ with the development of his side to date.

“I’m just happy with the development up until this point,” the German said at his pre-match press conference.

“We had to replace a few of the strongest characters in world football and we did that with a few of the strongest characters in world football. We have experienced world class footballers so that’s helpful with the real understanding of a team dynamic, it all helps.

“That’s why we are where we are, I’m not sure it’s a surprise. I’m happy we can show the right signs. We play much more positive football again, that comes with confidence, confidence comes with results, results comes with good performances, good performances comes with a good pre-season. All teams are probably only two injuries away from a real problem. Lot of football, a lot of opportunities.”

Virgil van Dijk scored his first goal of the season during the 2-0 win at Sheffield United in midweek, with the Dutch defender having been in fine form this season. Named as Liverpool captain last summer, Klopp believes the 32-year-old has rediscovered his best levels.

“It always was and it always will be. Virgil is the best defender in the world.

“Did he have lesser good spells? Yes. If you show me someone that never has, I will be really happy to meet him. Nobody is perfect, nobody will ever be. Virgil in shape for us is super super important.”

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