Virgil van Dijk is the not just best centre-back around, he’s the best I've ever seen, says Woodgate

Jonathan Woodgate says Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk has everything you’d want in a centre-back - and will get the better of Karim Benzema in the Champions League final.

Jonathan Woodgate says he is embarrassed by a career which featured spells with Leeds, Newcastle, Tottenham and Real Madrid and only yielded a Carling Cup winner's medal.

Nevertheless, despite the defender failing to deliver on the potential which saw him earn his first England call-up at the age of 19, Woodgate knows what makes a good centre-back.

And, according to the Middlesbrough-born 42-year-old, Virgil van Dijk is not only the best central defender around at the moment, he is the best he has ever seen.

Van Dijk and his Liverpool side beat Aston Villa on Tuesday night to keep the Reds' faint quadruple hopes alive. However, Woodgate not only believes the Premier League title is still within grasp, he is confident Van Dijk will get the better of Karim Benzema to help Liverpool lift the Champions League, too.

"I think he's the best centre-back I've seen in my lifetime," Woodgate said of Van Dijk when talking to "He's incredible. He's an incredible player. The best I've seen.

"I think Benzema is on something ridiculous like 43 goals for the season and he will need to be at his best against Van Dijk. You play against a centre-back like Van Dijk, and he just has everything. Everything you'd want in a centre-back. If you could create a centre-back and say this is what I'd want him to look like - Virgil van Dijk is that player.

"If Liverpool lose him, he is irreplaceable. He's the most important player in that Liverpool team. Playing against Benzema is tough, but playing against Van Dijk is on another planet. He's just outrageously good."

Karim Benzema

The head to head between Van Dijk and Benzema won't be the defining factor in the Champions League final, according to Woodgate, however. Rather it will be the relentlessness of the Liverpool press, something Real haven't had to deal with in previous rounds.

"Liverpool will win. They've got too much," he said. "They're too aggressive, they're too quick, they close down too quick. They're animals these Liverpool players. They're a juggernaut of a team. They have so much ability in the team and so much pace, power and intensity to their game. I think Real will struggle with it.

"I watched Real against City, Chelsea, PSG, and yes they beat them all but needed a bit of luck. In a one-off game against Liverpool - not at the Bernabeu - I think Liverpool will have too much and will win."

Before they can turn their attention to Paris, the Reds first have the small matter of overhauling Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Liverpool's failure to beat Tottenham at the weekend appeared to hand the title to Pep Guardiola's side but Woodgate predicts there will be further twists and turns to come.

"I was at the game and Tottenham were exceptional, and it was a tough game. I wouldn't say Liverpool messed up but at this point of the season, we always expect Man City and Liverpool to get three points, and we think they've thrown the title away. They haven't, because I think City will drop points towards the end of the season somewhere."

READ MORE: Bielsa would have kept Leeds up but I’m not so sure Marsch will, says Woodgate

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