The former Reds star believes the £75 million defender has become the “leader” Jurgen Klopp has been looking for after excelling at Anfield

Virgil van Dijk has become a “leader” at Liverpool, says Jamie Redknapp, and “completely transformed” a side now capable of challenging for Premier League and Champions League honours.

The Dutch defender helped the Reds to a European final in the 2017-18 campaign after arriving during the winter transfer window.

A record-breaking £75 million ($98m) deal was required to secure his services, with Jurgen Klopp spending big to plug a leaky back four.

More funds have been pumped into the goalkeeping and midfield departments, to complement a fearsome front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool have found the right pieces to compete for major silverware at home and abroad, with a collective effort earning them plenty of plaudits.

It is, however, Van Dijk who is considered to have made the biggest impact, with the Netherlands international having seen his efforts recognised with the 2019 PFA Player of the Year award.

Former Reds midfielder Redknapp has told the Daily Mail of the commanding centre-half: “There was one moment during Liverpool’s victory over Newcastle that captured the impact Virgil van Dijk has had on Jurgen Klopp’s team. 

“With Xherdan Shaqiri and Trent Alexander-Arnold standing over a free-kick, Van Dijk urged the Swiss midfielder to take it.

“The result? Shaqiri crossed for Divock Origi to head in the winner that keeps Liverpool’s title bid alive.

“Some argued that it would take more than one player to sort out Liverpool’s defence. Not only has Van Dijk done that but he has completely transformed this team.

“He is a leader, an organiser and a calming presence rolled into one.

“I cannot think of another player who has had a greater impact on a Premier League team.”

While Van Dijk has landed a prestigious individual prize with Liverpool this season, it could be that long-awaited silverware eludes the Reds as a team.

A first top-flight title in 29 years remains up for grabs, but Klopp’s side are relying on others to do them a favour as they continue to battle with reigning champions Manchester City.

A sixth European Cup success may also have to wait, with Liverpool having suffered a 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final to leave them with a continental mountain to climb at Anfield on Tuesday.

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