Emile Heskey: Virgil van Dijk is first leader since Liverpool FC legend

The former Reds striker doesn't believe Liverpool FC have had a defensive leader like Virgil van Dijk since Jamie Carragher

Virgil van Dijk
Jamie Carragher and Virgil van Dijk (Photo: Jamie Carragher / Instagram)

Emile Heskey believes Virgil van Dijk is the first defensive leader in the Liverpool FC team since Jamie Carragher.

The Netherlands international has exerted his influence upon Jurgen Klopp’s squad since his world record move to Liverpool FC in 2018.

The Reds spent a club record £75m fee on the 27-year-old defender as Klopp looked to address a clear weakness in the Liverpool FC team.

Van Dijk has helped the German manager to transform the Liverpool FC defence into the best in the Premier League after conceding just 13 times in 23 games.

The Dutch centre-half’s leadership skills have helped to bring out the best in Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren this term.

Liverpool FC have consistently had one of the worst defences in the top seven since Carragher called time on his career at the end of the 2012-13 season.

While the Reds have often thrilled with their attacking football under Klopp and his predecessor Brendan Rodgers, their poor defending has limited their progress in the Premier League.

But former Liverpool FC striker Heskey believes the Reds finally have a defender worthy of Carragher in the shape of Van Dijk.

“When you look at Van Dijk and when you look at Liverpool, in essence they haven’t had that leader I would go as far back as Jamie Carragher,” Heskey told Sky Sports.

“Someone who really commands a defence. Someone who really stands out and is counted for. Someone who is marshalling people around. Now Van Dijk has come in and he seems to be that man.

“He’s a great defender, he’s quick, he’s good in the air, he barks out orders. So what more do you need? It seems that everyone who plays alongside him [he] always brings out the best in them as well.”

Liverpool FC are sitting at the top of the Premier League table and four points ahead of second-placed Manchester City.

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