Virgil van Dijk can be 'one of the best defenders in the world', says Southampton boss

Virgil van Dijk of Southampton runs with the ball  during the friendly match between Twente Enschede and FC Southampton
Image: Virgil van Dijk has been an ever-present for Southampton this season

Virgil van Dijk can develop into "one of the best defenders in the world", according to Southampton boss Claude Puel.

The Dutchman produced a dynamic display at the heart of the Saints backline against Inter Milan in the Europa League on Thursday night, scoring a fine goal during the second half as Puel's side came from behind to secure a memorable 2-1 victory.

The 25-year-old former Celtic defender has been called up again for the Netherlands over the international break, and his club boss, Puel, is in no doubt what Van Dijk can go on to achieve in his career.

Virgil van Dijk of Southampton celebrates after scoring against Inter
Image: Van Dijk celebrates after scoring against Inter

"I think Virgil, since the beginning of the season has made progress," Puel said. "Virgil has improved both technically and tactically as well, in the duel he is fantastic.

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"For me, he has all of the qualities to become one of the best defenders in the world, there is no problem for this, Virgil has the answer - he must continue his work to continue his progress."

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Puel added: "It has been a new thing for him this season to defend with 50 or 60 metres behind him, and it is difficult to leave that space.

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"For me, it is important to defend at a high level, especially when we play against a great team with strikers who are very fast, it is important to be able to anticipate all of the possibilities of the opponent."

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