The Dutchman joined Liverpool for £75million last January.

Hughton: Van Dijk is as good as the Premier League’s greatest ever defenders

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  • 2019-01-11 06:10:07 1 years ago
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Virgil van Dijk’s performances for Liverpool put him on par with the finest centre-backs in Premier League history, according to Brighton boss Chris Hughton.

But Hughton believes the Holland international must sustain his form over a longer period of time to cement a place among the division’s all-time greats.

Van Dijk – a one-time transfer target for Albion – has helped transform Jurgen Klopp’s Reds into genuine title contenders following a £75million move from Southampton last January.

The 27-year-old visits the Amex Stadium on Saturday with the table-topping Merseyside club bidding to increase their four-point lead over champions Manchester City.

Asked if Van Dijk deserves to be talked about in the same breath as the likes of John Terry, Sol Campbell and Rio Ferdinand, Hughton replied: “Is he that level of player? Yes of course, I’ve no doubt he is when you look at the qualities he’s got.

“The other players we’ve mentioned have done it over a long period.

“If you’re asking me if he’s at their level as a player, then the answer is yes.

“But if you’re talking about an influence on our game and the history they have, then of course they’ve done it for a longer time and he hasn’t.”

Brighton – then managed by Gus Poyet – attempted to sign Van Dijk from Dutch club Groningen in January 2013, seeing two bids rejected.

The player joined Celtic in the summer of that year and, after moving on to St Mary’s for a reported £13million in September 2015, increased his value significantly before arriving at Anfield.

“What you have with all the best centre-halves, and it’s exactly the same with Van Dijk, is they make things look easier,” added Hughton.

“If you homed in on the job he’s done, the positions he is in, the pace that he shows, the distribution that he has, he looks such a good player.

“If you look at all the aspects of what you want in a centre-half: good in the air, comfortable with the ball at his feet, good enough pace, he has all those qualities.”

Albion’s success in establishing themselves in the top flight owes a lot to their own defensive solidity, built on the reliable centre-back partnership of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy.

Seagulls vice-captain Dunk became an England international in November, while Republic of Ireland defender Duffy has also regularly attracted praise.

Hughton says the “outstanding” pair are vital members of his team and feels they can improve further by watching Van Dijk.

“What Van Dijk is to Liverpool, that’s what our two are to us,” said Hughton.

“We know what level he is but if I’m looking at what you would regard as two outstanding centre-halves at our level, ours are as valuable to us as what he is to them.

“The two we have will look at the best around where they can learn from, what they can pick up from.

“At the moment, he (Van Dijk) is a great role model. He doesn’t miss many games, is good in both boxes and is a top, top all-round player.”

Despite being clear at the top of the table, Liverpool were beaten 2-1 by second-placed City in their previous league fixture, before crashing out of the FA Cup at Wolves on Monday.

Asked if the Reds can end their 19-year wait for a top-flight title, Hughton said they were favourites but “wouldn’t put money on it”.

“I think they are favourites simply because of the points difference, and I think they’ve been outstanding,” he said.

“But I couldn’t tell you who will win it. And certainly, I wouldn’t put money on it.”

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Hughton: Van Dijk is as good as the Premier League’s greatest ever defenders

West Ham United issue statement regarding Arnautovic's future

Arnautovic's brother and agent Danijel had recently fuelled speculation regarding the Austrian's future after urging the Hammers to sell him to the Far East where he can compete and secure trophies.

However, in response, the Hammers have stressed that Arnautovic is not for sale and they expect him to honour the remaining length of his contract, a statement read: " Marko Arnautovic has a contract and we fully expect him to honour it."

Arnautovic had been on the sidelines during the festive period with a hamstring problem but he has impressed on his comeback with three goals in as many appearances.

The Austrian is expected to lead the line for the Hammers on Saturday afternoon where they are scheduled to entertain Arsenal at the London Stadium.

The ex-Stoke City man has rarely been on the winning side against Arsenal but he has recently impressed against them with goals in back-to-back games.

Liverpool quoted hefty asking price for Burnley defender

The Reds recently witnessed Dejan Lovren sustain an injury in the FA Cup exit to Wolves and this sees them with just one senior centre-back in Virgil van Dijk , given  Joel Matip  and  Joe Gomez  are already on the sidelines.

Amidst this, the Merseyside giants have recently been linked with an initial loan approach for Tarkowski but The Mirror claims that the Clarets are unlikely to entertain such kind of a deal.

It is added that Sean Dyche 's side have set an asking price of around &pound50m for the England international and they are hoping that the figure will ward off any interest.

Fabinho featured in the central defence during the recent Cup defeat at Wolves and the Brazilian could take up the same position for the visit of Brighton amid the recent injury crisis.
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