At the end of 2018, BBC pundit Garth Crooks went on record claiming Liverpool centre-back, Virgil van Dijk, shares some similarities with Liverpool FC legend, Alan Hansen. Recently, Liverpool youngster Ki-Jana Hoever has claimed his team-mate Virgil van Dijk is the number one defender in the world.
The Reds signed van Dijk in a £75m deal from Southampton in the January 2018 making the Dutchman the most expensive defender in the world. Most analysts will certainly agree that van Dijk is the rock in the defence of Liverpool and one of the best defenders in Europe, but is he as good as Alan Hansen used to be?
Let’s compare the two players and see what the experts have to say about it.
Yes, van Dijk is that good!
Van Dijk has been a Liverpool player for about 16 months now and though the Dutch defender has a £75 million price-tag on his neck, no one is doubting that the paid transfer fee was a good deal. John Barnes, an English former professional footballer and manager who currently works as a commentator and pundit for ESPN and SuperSport, spoke to Sport Review in January 2019 and has gone as far as to compare van Dijk to his former Liverpool teammate – the legendary centre-back Alan Hansen.
He stated, “Alan Hansen [reminds me of him] in terms of how calm he is and the effect he has on the defence”.
Jamie Carragher, who played more than 500 official games for The Reds, is a big fan of van Dijk too. The Sky Sports analyst and former Liverpool defender believes Van Dijk would have been a great player to play alongside Hansen in the centre of the defence and would even put both players in his all-time Liverpool XI. However, Carragher insists the Dutchman has to win the Premier League or Champions League at the club to achieve that.
Former Arsenal player and now football expert and columnist, Paul Merson has also called van Dijk “the best defender in the world” and is of the opinion that the Dutch international is ‘the new Alan Hansen’.
He went on to say that “he is [of an] absolutely different class”.
The former attacking midfielder even considers him to be one of the contenders to be named as the Premier League Player of the Year.
He’s also certainly not the only one believing van Dijk deserves the trophy. Danny Murphy, who played 170 official games for The Reds, has gone on record claiming the Dutchman would be his first pick as he has made the biggest impact on a team in the Premier League.
No, there is no comparison (yet)!
Hansen is one of the most legendary football players in Liverpool’s history, winning the first division title on eight occasions as well as celebrating three European Cups and two FA Cup triumphs. Van Dijk, however, has not won a single trophy yet since arriving on Merseyside.
Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk cannot be compared to Alan Hansen, says Anfield legend Ian Rush. Van Dijk “still has a long way to go” to be compared to Liverpool legend Alan Hansen, according to the Welshman. “If Alan Hansen would be playing football today, he’d be an absolute world-beater”, Rush said. Ian Rush clearly believes the Dutchman has the potential to become one of the greatest defenders ever for Liverpool but is of the opinion it is way too early to compare both players.
Retired Scottish professional football player, Graeme Souness, regards van Dijk as a player who “has got everything Alan Hansen had”. Though the ex-Liverpool player thinks Hansen had a better passing-range, he went on to say that van Dijk is far better than Hansen in the air. He does admit that the Dutch international still has a long way to go before being considered in the same breath as the Scot. Souness spent the entirety of his Liverpool career playing alongside Hansen, so if there is one person in the world who can make the comparison it would be him.
Alan Hansen was the best defender of his era and played an integral part in a Liverpool defence which between 1975-1984, played 263 competitive home games and only lost 15. Comparing van Dijk to a legendary player after less than two seasons seems a bit too hasty at this moment. But if van Dijk can win the Premier League title with Liverpool this summer – the first one since 1990 – he would be one step closer to being worthy of this comparison.