Gary Neville compares Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk to Manchester United legend Jaap Stam

Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool in January for a world-record £75m (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville has compared Virgil van Dijk to Manchester United hero Jaap Stam and says the Liverpool defender is a ‘monster’.

Netherlands international Van Dijk became the most expensive defender in history last winter after joining Liverpool for a fee of £75million from Southampton.

Van Dijk was quick to adjust to his new surroundings at Anfield, playing a key role as Jurgen Klopp’s side reached the Champions League final.

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The 27-year-old also impressed in Liverpool’s Premier League victory over West Ham on Sunday as the Reds started the 2018-19 campaign with a 4-0 thrashing.

Neville says Van Dijk has made a huge impact at Liverpool and says the centre-back is beginning to remind him of Dutch legend Stam, who won three Premier League titles with Manchester United.

Speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast for Sky Sports, he said: ‘I thought Van Dijk was a good player at Southampton, but I didn’t think he was worth £75m.

‘I also didn’t think he would have the impact on Liverpool’s defence that he’s had.

Van Dijk helped Liverpool beat West Ham 4-0 on Sunday (Picture: Getty)‘He’s a monster, and is looking a bit like Jaap Stam, which worries me as a Manchester United fan. It looks like he just throws people out of the way.

‘You look at that midfield, with Wijnaldum, Keita and Milner, with Henderson and Fabinho still to come in. There is some strength in depth there.

‘Can Liverpool reproduce that high-intensity football Saturday-Wednesday? And did they need another centre-forward in case Firmino is out?

‘Because I do think there is a big drop in intensity in their play when him or Salah are not playing.’

Gary Neville has heaped praise on Van Dijk and Liverpool (Picture: Getty)Having bolstered Klopp’s squad with five key signings over the summer, Liverpool are expected to challenge Manchester City for the title this season.

They finished fourth during the last campaign, 25 points behind Pep Guardiola’s rampant champions.

‘I think Liverpool are the side [City] will feel threatened by directly,’ Neville added. ‘Certainly in terms of the style of play, Liverpool have certainly got the measure of Manchester City. You can see that.

‘City like to push up the pitch, the centre-backs play high and even push in when they’re attacking. The likes of Mane, Salah, Firmino, if you leave space in-behind, they just cut right through you.

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‘I think directly there is a threat, and I think indirectly in terms of the bigger picture in the league, certainly with the signings they have made, the good feeling of getting into a Champions League final and finishing in the top four consecutive seasons is something where City will feel a threat.

‘People are not feeling that way about Manchester United or Tottenham or Chelsea at this moment in time, because of what has happened in pre-season.

‘But there does seem to be a definite threat from Liverpool at this moment in time, but Liverpool will have to prove that.’

Liverpool travel to south London on Monday evening to face Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace.

MORE: Ian Wright names two positives from Arsenal’s humbling defeat to Man City

‘Worried’ Gary Neville compares Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk to Manchester United legend Jaap Stam

Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool in January for a world-record £75m (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville has compared Virgil van Dijk to Manchester United hero Jaap Stam and says the Liverpool defender is a ‘monster’.

Netherlands international Van Dijk became the most expensive defender in history last winter after joining Liverpool for a fee of £75million from Southampton.

Van Dijk was quick to adjust to his new surroundings at Anfield, playing a key role as Jurgen Klopp’s side reached the Champions League final.

More: Football

The 27-year-old also impressed in Liverpool’s Premier League victory over West Ham on Sunday as the Reds started the 2018-19 campaign with a 4-0 thrashing.

Neville says Van Dijk has made a huge impact at Liverpool and says the centre-back is beginning to remind him of Dutch legend Stam, who won three Premier League titles with Manchester United.

Speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast for Sky Sports, he said: ‘I thought Van Dijk was a good player at Southampton, but I didn’t think he was worth £75m.

‘I also didn’t think he would have the impact on Liverpool’s defence that he’s had.

Van Dijk helped Liverpool beat West Ham 4-0 on Sunday (Picture: Getty)‘He’s a monster, and is looking a bit like Jaap Stam, which worries me as a Manchester United fan. It looks like he just throws people out of the way.

‘You look at that midfield, with Wijnaldum, Keita and Milner, with Henderson and Fabinho still to come in. There is some strength in depth there.

‘Can Liverpool reproduce that high-intensity football Saturday-Wednesday? And did they need another centre-forward in case Firmino is out?

‘Because I do think there is a big drop in intensity in their play when him or Salah are not playing.’

Gary Neville has heaped praise on Van Dijk and Liverpool (Picture: Getty)Having bolstered Klopp’s squad with five key signings over the summer, Liverpool are expected to challenge Manchester City for the title this season.

They finished fourth during the last campaign, 25 points behind Pep Guardiola’s rampant champions.

‘I think Liverpool are the side [City] will feel threatened by directly,’ Neville added. ‘Certainly in terms of the style of play, Liverpool have certainly got the measure of Manchester City. You can see that.

‘City like to push up the pitch, the centre-backs play high and even push in when they’re attacking. The likes of Mane, Salah, Firmino, if you leave space in-behind, they just cut right through you.

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‘I think directly there is a threat, and I think indirectly in terms of the bigger picture in the league, certainly with the signings they have made, the good feeling of getting into a Champions League final and finishing in the top four consecutive seasons is something where City will feel a threat.

‘People are not feeling that way about Manchester United or Tottenham or Chelsea at this moment in time, because of what has happened in pre-season.

‘But there does seem to be a definite threat from Liverpool at this moment in time, but Liverpool will have to prove that.’

Liverpool travel to south London on Monday evening to face Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace.

MORE: Ian Wright names two positives from Arsenal’s humbling defeat to Man City

Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk brutally mock Dejan Lovren on Liverpool return

The Croatian made a rather bold claim over the summer (Picture: Getty)Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk could not resist cheekily mocking Dejan Lovren’s claim that he is the best defender in the world when he returned to Liverpool training this week.

The Croatian was given three weeks off after his exploits at the World Cup, where he suffered defeat in the final against France having put in a mammoth defensive display in the semi-final against England.

After that match he gave a passionate defence of his talents, saying ‘people should recognise that I’m one of the best defenders in the world’ having also played in the Champions League final just a month earlier.

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But his Liverpool teammates helped him come crashing back down to earth when he turned up to Melwood on Tuesday.

As Lovren greeted the players over breakfast – and introduced himself to some new teammates – Van Dijk hilariously remarked ‘best defender in the world’ to prompt Salah to burst into laughter.

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Salah has been trolling Lovren about his assertion for much of the summer, Facetiming both of Liverpool’s centre-backs and posting: ‘With one of the best defender in the world.’

Speaking about his performances over the last year, Lovren told beIN Sports after beating England: ‘It’s something special for me. From my point of view, people were saying I had a difficult season but I don’t agree with that.

Salah has been winding Lovren up for a while (Picture: Instagram / @mosalah)‘I showed that I took Liverpool to the Champions League final and now with my national team we are in the final.

‘I think people should recognise that I’m one of the best defenders in the world and not just talk nonsense I will say.’

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Only two Liverpool players would get in Manchester City’s team, claims Danny Murphy

Jurgen Klopp will be leading Liverpool’s title challenge this season. (Getty Images)Only two Liverpool players would get in Manchester City’s strongest starting line-up, according to Danny Murphy.

Pep Guardiola’s side are favourites to retain their title this season but Liverpool are looking to close the gap after significantly strengthening in the summer.

Jurgen Klopp has spent £65 million on signing Alisson as his new first-choice goalkeeper, while Fabinho and Naby Keita have arrived to strengthen the midfield.

In attack, Xherdan Shaqiri was signed from Stoke City to give Klopp another option to his sublime trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

But Murphy, who made nearly 250 appearances for Liverpool, believes only Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk would get in City’s best team.

Xherdan Shaqiri is looking to hit the ground running alongside Mohamed Salah. (Getty Images)More: Football

‘Fabinho, Keita, Alisson are all good players and they give Liverpool strength in depth and competition for places, which does increase performance, but would any of those players get in City’s team?’ Murphy told talkSPORT.

‘Salah and Van Dijk would get in City’s team. Other than that, probably no others [would get in].

‘You can’t base your transfer policy on buying better players than City have. It is nearly impossible. You can’t buy a better player than [Kevin] De Bruyne in midfield, so you have to compete in a different way.

Virgil van Dijk will be a key part of Liverpool’s defence. (Getty Images)‘What I like that Klopp has done is he has signed quality where he has needed it – the middle of the park they were lacking – there is great competition for places and he did it early.

‘Shaqiri is a good ‘un as well. That is not bad business the money they have spent there. He had a good World Cup and he will create competition for places.

‘Liverpool have done really well and will bridge the gap with City.’

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Virgil van Dijk slams ‘jealous’ rivals for celebrating Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat

Virgil van Dijk slammed Liverpool’s ‘jealous’ rivals (Picture: Getty)Virgil van Dijk has slammed Liverpool’s rivals for celebrating the club’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid and says other teams should be jealous of the Reds.

Two howlers from Loris Karius gifted victory to Zinedine Zidane’s side in Kiev, ending Liverpool’s hopes of winning a sixth European Cup.

The Reds went 1-0 down when Karim Benzema scored the opener and levelled through Sadio Mane but Gareth Bale’s double gave Madrid their third Champions League title in a row.

Defeat for Liverpool means they’re yet to win a trophy under Jurgen Klopp but Van Dijk says the club are making progress and their rivals should be jealous.

Karius made two howlers (Picture: AP)‘Of course we should be proud of ourselves,’ Van Dijk told talkSPORT.

‘All the teams in England want to be in our position right now.

‘They act like they’re happy, but I think they should be jealous.

‘We were here, unfortunately we lost, but I think we need to take this to next season and make sure we do even better than we did this year.’

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Karius threw the ball at Benzema for Madrid’s first and spilled Bale’s second into the net to confirm Madrid’s win.

The German has since broken his silence and asked for forgiveness from Liverpool fans.

MORE: Loris Karius posts apology: I’m infinitely sorry to my teammates, for you fans, and for all the staff

Virgil van Dijk reveals big factor in rejecting Chelsea & Man City for Liverpool

Van Dijk joined Liverpool (Picture: Getty Images)Virgil van Dijk revealed that a group of Liverpool supporters played a huge factor in him joining the club and rejecting fellow Premier League heavyweights Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Dutch centre-half signed up to Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield revolution in the January transfer window and has been an influential figure in Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final.

Van Dijk had plenty of offers on the table from the likes of City and Chelsea, but he recalled an incident with a group of Reds fans at last year’s Champions League final at the Principality Stadium that convinced him Liverpool was the club to join.

‘I never really go to big games to watch as a fan, but I was in Cardiff,’ Van Dijk said.

‘The sponsors (Sony) hooked us up with two fantastic seats and it was two hours from where I used to live so we thought, “Let’s go.”

Van Dijk has enjoyed a great season (Picture: AMA/Getty)‘From the moment I got there a lot of people in hospitality were Liverpool fans and they were saying, ‘Join, please join.’

‘It was funny to see how big the support and fan base of Liverpool is.

‘That sort of thing stays with you. Influence? That is a big word, but it does something to you.

‘There was a lot of attention on myself. There had been a lot of talk about different clubs at that time.

‘It could have been different fans coming up to me and saying, ‘Come to us’ but 90 per cent of the supporters were Liverpool.

‘That says a lot and the people who were with me were like, ‘Woah, there are so many Liverpool fans, it is all over the world’. It was incredible.’

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Arsene Wenger claims Liverpool have made life harder for next Arsenal manager in the transfer market

Arsene Wenger has just two matches remaining as Arsenal manager (Picture: Getty)Arsene Wenger believes his successor’s task has been complicated by Liverpool’s purchase of Virgil van Dijk.

The long-serving Arsenal manager has just two matches of his tenure remaining before he steps down at the end of the season.

Wenger insists whoever takes over the managerial reins at the Emirates does not need to make drastic changes to a squad which is destined to finish a staggering 30 points behind champions Manchester City.

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Liverpool broke the world-record for a defender when they paid Southampton £75million for Van Dijk in January and Wenger fears the market has been artificially inflated.

‘The squad doesn’t need much,’ said Wenger. ‘There is huge potential in there and good spirit.

Liverpool’s defence has dramatically improve since the signing of Virgil van Dijk in January (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal signed unknown Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos for an undisclosed fee in January (Picture: Getty)‘There’s a good basis. We need two or three additions and this team will compete for the title next season.

‘We don’t need massive spending. You are seeing defenders go for £70million.

‘It is difficult to know what is a lot.’

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Virgil van Dijk’s class reaction as referee blows his whistle after Roma clash

Virgil van Dijk has been in imperious form for Liverpool (Picture: Getty)Virgil van Dijk rewarded Jurgen Klopp’s patience with an impressive performance in Liverpool’s 7-6 aggregate Champions League semi-final win over Roma.

The Reds desperately tried to sign Van Dijk last summer but had to wait until January to wrap up a £75million deal for the defender – and boy was it worth the wait.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have lost only three matches in 2018 and the giant Dutchman has been at the heart of everything good about the Merseyside club in recent weeks.

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Van Dijk was on the end of a torrent of abuse from Southampton fans for the way he pushed through his move to Anfield. But he will have forgotten all of that by now.

The sheer joy as referee Damir Skomina blew his whistle at full-time was clear to see as Van Dijk dropped to the turf and began thumping the ground.

‘It means a lot. I think the whole club, players and everyone worked so hard for it,’ the Netherlands centre-back said after the clash.

‘Obviously tonight was very difficult if you look at the score. It’s the first game that Liverpool have lost in the Champions League this year.

‘But in the end we got there and now we can enjoy. Not too long, though, because Chelsea is just around the corner.’

Virgil van Dijk admitted Liverpool had a tough time in Rome (Picture: Getty)Asked if Liverpool got lucky on Wednesday night, Van Dijk responded: ‘Who cares? We’re through.

‘We had a couple of opportunities as well, so, yeah, that’s football.

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‘The ref made the decisions together with the assistants, and if the game plays like it played today…fair play, we’re through.’

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Virgil van Dijk hits back at complaining Roma players after Liverpool reach Champions League final

Virgil van Dijk responds to Roma’s complains: ‘Who cares?’ (Getty Images)Virgil van Dijk has dismissed complaints from Roma’s players after Liverpool reached the Champions League final on Wednesday evening.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were beaten 4-2 at the Stadio Olimpico but progressed to the final against Real Madrid on May 26 with a 7-6 victory on aggregate.

Roma, however, had two strong penalty claims turned down in the second half as Edin Dzeko was brought down by Loris Karius, while Stephan El Shaarawy’s goal-bound strike was blocked by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hand.

But when asked about Roma’s two rejected penalty appeals, Van Dijk replied: Who cares? We’re through.

We had a couple of opportuities as well, so, yeah, that’s football.

The ref made the decisions together with the assistants, and if the game plays like it played today…fair play, we’re through.

Georginio Wijnaldum and Van Dijk celebrate Liverpool reaching the Champions League final. (Getty Images)More: Football

Asked what qualities Liverpool possess to trouble Real Madrid in the final, Van Dijk replied: ‘If you look at the way we play, the way we press, the way we dominate teams at times.

‘We need to be ready when the game is there.

‘But for now we need to enjoy for a couple of days then the full focus is on the Premier League because we still have a job to do.’

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Virgil van Dijk admits he couldn’t sleep following Liverpool’s victory over Manchester City

Virgil van Dijk was in inspired form against Manchester City at Anfield (Picture: Getty)Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has revealed that he struggled to sleep following the side’s 3-0 defeat of Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Van Dijk, 26, joined Liverpool in January in the hope of playing important matches on the European stage and the defender put in an accomplished display to keep out the likes of Gabriel Jesus and David De Bruyne.

Goals from Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane secured a three-goal advantage over City at Anfield ahead of the second leg.

‘It was difficult to fall asleep,’ Van Dijk told Liverpool’s official website when asked about his emotions after the first-leg victory.

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‘The game at home was an amazing example – everyone was 100 per cent focused and at it. Everyone showed their quality.

‘And you see what can happen. It was a total performance; in the first half we dominated possession and had our good moments and scored good goals; in the second half we defended as a unit and it was a fantastic game.’

Mohamed Salah scored Liverpool’s opening goal against Manchester City (Picture: Getty)

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The Dutch centre-back warned his team-mates against complacency ahead of their trip to the Etihad.

‘You can’t deny that being 3-0 up is going to be a little bit in your mind,’ he said.

‘But we need to go into the game with the mindset that it’s still 0-0. We want to win the game and we want to play well.

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‘We know how good they are, we know their strengths and weaknesses as well.

‘We need to be ready for everything that is possible – and we will be.’

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