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 16:10:37 11 months 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

Emery admits Arsenal can only afford loan signings in January

Unai Emery admits Arsenal can only afford to make loan signings in the January transfer window – but insists he will be happy with his squad if the Gunners fail to add any new recruits.

With the club keen to add a defender and a winger to their ranks, head coach Emery has confirmed there is no money available to land permanent targets.

The Spaniard also said he would be happy if no signings were made throughout the month.

Bernd Leno
Bernd Leno joined Arsenal last summer (Adam Davy/PA)

Arsenal sit fifth in the Premier League and have an upcoming FA Cup fourth round tie at home to Manchester United.

Emery's side are also in the last 32 of the Europa League where they will face BATE Borisov over two legs next month.

Five players were signed last summer – Bernd Leno, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi – but all came in for a total outlay of less than £75million.

Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil's new contract put a dent in the money available for Arsenal signings (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A new contract for Mesut Ozil, making him the highest-paid player in the club's history, and signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 12 months ago for a club-record fee have played a part in the lack of funds as Emery conceded the winter window will be more frugal for Arsenal.

He said: "We cannot sign permanently. We can only loan players. Only loan players. I can say to you that the club is working, the club is telling me the different situations in each moment. At the moment, we haven't had any news today about that."

While the club work on loan targets, Emery said he would be content to work with the players he has over the remainder of the season.

Emery added: "We are working with the players who are with us now. Also, we are giving chances to the young players and finding with them the regularity to be consistent when we need them to be.

Denis Suarez
Barcelona's Denis Suarez has been linked with a move to Arsenal (Mike Egerton/PA)

"I am very happy, I know it is not easy for us now in this transfer market and if we can find one player who can help us like we need, with the quality and a different player for getting in our squad, we are going to do it.

"But I am happy with every player today, it is really some injuries that didn't help us in the last matches because we struggled with different injuries with the players.

"I am happy because another player can have chances when one player is injured and they are doing well, that is the reason for us being calm and my confidence with the club is big, they are working and if one or two players can come and help us that is perfect."

Arsenal have been linked with Barcelona winger Denis Suarez, Yannick Carrasco of Dalian Yifang and Ever Banega from Emery's former club Sevilla.

Asked specifically about a move for Suarez, Emery said: "I don't know his situation now. We can only sign players later on. I know the club is working on possibilities of which players can help us with big performances like we need now."

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9am Man Utd news: Solskjaer backs Pochettino, Pogba fit, Jose Mourinho to earn United £10m

DEADLINE DAY is drawing ever closer as Manchester United continue to be linked with several big names.

Here's the latest transfer talk, team news and rumours from the Red Devils.

 Paul Pogba has been in fine form since the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Pog back

MANCHESTER United have been handed a major boost with Paul Pogba fit to face Tottenham.

The in-form French midfielder was a doubt to take on their fellow Champions League hopefuls following a knock he picked up against Newcastle.

Real Deal

JOSE MOURINHO claimed he has ‘no intention’ of managing Benfica as a return to Real Madrid is still open.
Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United in December after two-and-a-half seasons in charge at Old Trafford.

Josh the ticket

MANCHESTER UNITED could be the latest club to lose one of their academy stars for nothing, according to reports.

Youngster Joshua Bohui is being tracked by both Barcelona and Monaco after refusing to extend his stay at the Red Devils.

Mour to come

REAL MADRID will be hit by a £10million bill from Manchester United if they make Jose Mourinho manager for a second time.
Mourinho and his agent Jorge Mendes have negotiated the Portuguese boss' £15m severance payment after he was sacked by the Old Trafford club before Christmas.</p>

Magic number

MANCHESTER UNITED are planning to offer new deals to out-of-contract trio Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Ander Herrera.

ESPN are reporting that despite the players entering the final six months of their respective Old Trafford deals, talks are ongoing.

beIN serious

JOSE MOURINHO is already back in football after being hired as a pundit for beIN Sports.
The sacked Manchester United boss, 55, is set to appear on screen for the first time since his firing — as an analyst for coverage of the Asian Cup.

Luk at yourselves

MANCHESTER UNITED fans should get behind Romelu Lukaku — because he is "an unbelievable striker" and a "great person".
That is the view of his Belgium team-mate and Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld.

Spur-red on

Solskjaer admits Poch deserves Old Trafford job link as Man Utd return home from their Dubai training break.

Manchester United caretaker boss comes face to face with Pochettino on Sunday as he takes his side to Wembley to face Tottenham.

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