Details of how Liverpool's squad view Virgil van Dijk compared to Mohamed Salah

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool's title charge suffered a setback last Thursday against Manchester City.

The Reds went into the game versus the champions knowing that a win would put them 10 points clear of Pep Guardiola's side.

However, despite Roberto Firmino bringing the score level in the second-half and Liverpool looking favourites to go on and win, Leroy Sane struck to blow the title race wide open.

The German winger's goal was almost against the run of play, with City's defence then holding firm to see out a priceless win, cutting the gap at the top to four points.

Despite the loss, Jurgen Klopp's side are still favourites to claim their maiden Premier League crown and a lot of that is down to their strength at the back.

Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Andrew Robertson have all been imperious in defence, with Liverpool conceding just eight goals all season.

The signing of Van Dijk last January for £75m has regularly been touted as a point of change for Klopp's Liverpool, but how to the squad actually view the Dutchman?

Well, a report from the Independent has given behind-the-scenes details on the players' opinions of the centre-back.

They view Van Dijk as the key factor against every club outside the top six - not Mohamed Salah - and believe they will win the title if the the 27-year-old avoids injury.

Van Dijk in action vs City

Their faith in the Dutchman against the smaller sides is because he gives them such security against counter attacks.

One player is said to have likened him to Chelsea's N'Golo Kante in this way, saying he's "always in the right place at the right time".

It's no coincidence that in 14 matches against the 14 'smaller clubs', Liverpool have conceded just three goals.

Players have also noticed how opponents drift away from Van Dijk and target the likes of Dejan Lovren, with one player reportedly quipping he even made “Loris Karius look good for a while”.

Van Dijk helps out Karius

He's their leader in every game and offers the rest of the team security in fixtures where they are pretty much solely focused on attacking.

There's no more fear of being hit with a sucker-punch and Van Dijk's presence is said to have left Liverpool's squad baffled on how his talent wasn't spotted earlier.

Next up for the Dutchman and the Reds, a trip to Brighton, where the onus will be on Van Dijk to do what he does best.

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