Manchester United legend Gary Pallister has backed Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to become only the fifth player to play every minute of a Premier League-winning campaign.
Pallister became the first to achieve the feat in the 1992/93 season – in which there were 42 games – with John Terry, Wes Morgan and Cesar Azpilicueta the other players to have done so.
Van Dijk looks set to join that list if the current season resumes, having played each of the 2,610 minutes of the campaign to date.
And, speaking to the Daily Mirror, Pallister explained how Netherlands captain Van Dijk may not be thinking about such achievements, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side keen to end a 30-year wait for a league title.
“To be fair, if you play every minute of every game you need a bit of luck,” Pallister said.
“I am sure there were lads who were better physically prepared for games than I was who had injuries and got subbed by the manager for whatever reason.
“It’s nice to have goals, achievements and when you look back on it. But at the time it was all about winning the title, playing your part in doing so and being part of that team that put away 26 years of frustration.”
Van Dijk arrived at Anfield from Southampton in January 2018 for £75million, a then-world-record fee for a defender.
However, the Dutchman has settled perfectly into his role and Pallister said that his influence is similar to the impact Eric Cantona had on United.
“He’s a bit like Cantona was for us, that final piece of the jigsaw,” the pundit said.
“Liverpool were looking for a really dominant centre half to take them to the next level and they found that in Virgil van Dijk. I always remember a good friend of mine, Tony Mowbray, talking about Van Dijk a year or so before he went to Liverpool.
“He was saying, ‘I can’t believe one of the top four teams haven’t bought him because he looks a real exceptional player’.
“Then Liverpool paid what seemed to be over the odds for his services and he has taken to it like a duck to water.”
Liverpool need just two wins from their remaining nine games to clinch the title, although it is unclear – given the global pandemic – whether the Premier League season will resume.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab confirmed on Tuesday that the proposal of playing behind closed doors was under consideration and said that football’s return would provide a lift in the spirits of the nation.
In other news, United and Chelsea have reportedly swooped in on the race for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner after Liverpool asked for more time to complete the deal.