Virgil van Dijk’s former manager believes the Liverpool centre-back is a superior player to Nemanja Vidic.

The Dutchman helped his international teammates reach the final of the Nations League, just over a week after winning the Champions League with Liverpool.

Pieter Huistra, the man who handed Van Dijk his senior debut in 2011 with Groningen in 2011, has praised his former player.

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“I’m bias anyway, so I would choose Virgil,” he told talkSPORT. “He has more, he has a little bit more.

“Vidic, of course, without any doubt was a very good player, he played in a top team.

“In my view, Virgil has everything. He has the flair, he has the technique, he has the passing, he has the defensive leadership, he has the personality that catches people’s eye.

“I just admire the strengths of certain players.

“There have been very good defenders in the Premier League and when you [Van Dijk] are talked about in that group of players then it’s a good honour.”

He added: “When he went to Groningen he left his home, so for him it was a big step at that time, two-and-a-half hours away from his mother, who he’s close to.

“In Groningen he was living with another player. For somebody at 18, 19 it’s a big step, he had to learn to cook for himself and look after himself.

“He came into a new environment, he had to get used to how things work. He picked it up and in the reserve team, the coaches helped him a lot.

“I saw him play every week in the reserves, everyone could see that he would become a first-team player.

“He trained with the first-team for the last two months of the season and came on as a substitute and then started a few games. It was a natural progression. He worked hard and became a better footballer.

“A defender is often overlooked, but defending is a very important part of football. Attacking always starts from the defenders. Virgil is important in that, he can direct from the back.

“I always said to my central defenders, ‘you’re always the playmakers of the team, you decide how the attack will start’.

“So if you have a defender like Virgil, who is quick and direct and has a good diagonal pass or a pass in behind the opposition, it’s very effective and important.”

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Freelance writer and passionate Liverpool supporter from Northern Ireland. Married to the beautiful Christine. YNWA.

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