The Netherlands international has been a rock in the Liverpool FC defence over the course of the campaign to help the Reds challenge for the Premier League title.
Van Dijk has been calming influence in the back four to help bring out the best in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Joel Matip in recent months.
The 27-year-old has helped Liverpool FC to concede a mere 20 goals in 33 games in the Premier League this season, which is the best defensive record in the top flight.
Alisson Becker has also kept more clean sheets than any other Premier League goalkeeper, thanks in part to the leadership shown by Van Dijk.
Now, former Manchester United defender Neville has explained why Van Dijk is deserving of the PFA player of the year award in his eyes.
Neville told Sky Sports: “It wasn’t the signing itself that surprised me, it was the amount. I remember when Manchester City signed Kyle Walker for £50m and it sort of left me thinking ‘wow, that’s incredible’. It’s the same with Virgil van Dijk.
“However, watching him in the last 12 months, everybody is giving him the praise he deserves. He’s been absolutely outstanding.”
Neville added: “Honestly, every time I watch Liverpool play and the ball gets played forward, even if Joel Matip misses it or the two full-backs aren’t quite there because they’ve gone forward, he just seems to cover the whole back four as one defender.
“He’s a unique defender. Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos have been the best centre-backs in the world for me for the last few years.
“There is no doubt that this guy now is going to be up there in the next few years as the best centre-half in the world, because I’ve not seen a centre-half as good as him for a long, long time.
“And his in-possession play, his passing is a joke – it’s unbelievable. He passes it like a central midfield player.
“To me, he’s the player in the team that every Liverpool player will say if there’s one injury we don’t want, it’s him. He can’t get injured. He’s the one that’s got to stay fit.”
Liverpool FC signed Van Dijk in a club record £75m deal from Southampton in the 2018 January transfer window.
The Reds made Van Dijk the most expensive defender in the world after months of pursuing the Dutch star.
Liverpool FC will take on Chelsea FC on Sunday in pursuit of a vital win to maintain their title challenge.
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