Liverpool legend Jan Molby claims Virgil van Dijk is as important to the team as Mohamed Salah and is a future Liverpool captain.
The former Southampton defender arrived at Anfield in an eye-watering £75 million deal back in January and enjoyed a dream debut, scoring the winner in the Merseyside derby.
And Molby, who played for the Reds over a 12-year period between 1984 until 1996, believes the Netherlands international could emulate the iconic Alan Hansen.
“Alan did his own job but was always there to help others,” Molby told The Sunday Post. “Other defenders just do their own job.
“Virgil is similar to Alan, in that you always feel that whatever happens he will help you out.
“He looks after people. As a footballer, there is nothing better than knowing that someone has your back.
“Liverpool still have a lot of relatively inexperienced players at this level and they need looking after.
“He gives the impression, with a little hand signal or shout, that he has the qualities to do that.
“You only need to look at the players around him. It works better when he is in the team.
“Weve seen that particularly on the big Champions League nights. They are made for him. Thats when you show the world that this is where you belong.”
Liverpool face Roma in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night, with van Dijk expected to continue to partner Dejan Lovren in defence.
With the Netherlands defender in the side, Liverpool have looked markedly more solid.
And it is this improvement at the back which makes van Dijk a strong contender for the Liverpool captaincy – should it become available.
He added: “There has been a massive sea change since van Dijk came in. Three months ago, Liverpool had defensive frailties. But now they dont.
“If the opposition puts a ball over the top, he will be very quick to read it. Liverpool dont look vulnerable at set-pieces because he plants himself right in the middle and deals with them.
“Sometimes youd hardly see Alan in the 90 minutes because he just quietly stopped the opposition doing what they wanted to do.
“You could always count on him being in the right position, so he never had to dive in or gamble. Thats what Virgil does, too.
“I think he is as important to the team as Mo Salah.
“No disrespect to Jordan Henderson, but I would be amazed if Virgil wasnt a future Liverpool captain.
“I dont think he should be captain now. Its right that Henderson has it. But I think it will naturally come to him one day.”