Virgil van Dijk has firmly established himself at the best centre-back in world football, following an immaculate 21 months at Liverpool.

The Dutchman has got the better of almost every opponent he has come up against – if he remains at this level for another four or five years, he will go down as a true great of the game.

Someone who struggled to thrive up against Van Dijk was Chelsea star Tammy Abraham, as the Reds won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge last month.

Speaking to the Mirror, the striker heaped praise on the Liverpool defender, admitting he is “annoying” to face:

He’s a beast. He’s just good at what he does. He’s experienced. I try to use my tricks in my head but his understanding of the game is top drawer.

It is to do with little things. Movement. My movement in the box, some defenders don’t pay attention to me – they are only focused on the ball.

With him, it’s kind of both, he’s paying attention to me and the ball, knows where I am, knows where I want to go, follows me.

It’s quite annoying for a striker – just leave me alone!

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Van Dijk deserves every ounce of praise that comes his way, considering the impact he has had at Liverpool.

No player has been more influential during the Jurgen Klopp era, for all the brilliance of the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and others.

Van Dijk holds the key to Liverpool’s Premier League title chances, so keeping him fit remains imperative.

No player in the league is superior on current form – a Ballon d’Or win in December would crown him as the world’s best player in 2019, too.

Is Van Dijk the best centre-back of his generation?